Full disclosure first off: When I baked these bars, I baked them in a quarter sheet pan and then another baking dish (I did not have a 10 x 15 inch pan called for). The bars baked in the other dish came out cake thickness, and these are slightly thicker than I perceive pumpkin bars to be, so in the recipe that follows, I call for a half sheet pan. I think that will create the right thickness in this bar, but honestly, now that I'm writing this, I'm wondering if it will bake through to the center. I'll just have to try this again soon.
That being said, here's a mini story of how these bars came to be here on my blog.
I don't even think I knew pumpkin bars existed until I started working at Clive Elementary School here in Iowa. I haven't researched it, but I suspect it's another one of those Midwestern things, like Dutch letters. Connie J., our library associate, makes these about once a year, and although they look harmless, these bars are dangerously addicting. I don't know if it's the tender spice cake or the cool cream cheese icing, but they are awesome. Sorry to say, this is not Connie's recipe. I keep meaning to get it from her, but have not done so yet. This one comes from allrecipes.com, and by the pics on allrecipes.com, I could see it was close to Connie's recipe.
If you've never had a pumpkin bar before, just imagine a light pumpkin bread, tender and lightly spiced, with a nice just-thick-enough layer of sweet, cool cream cheese icing. It's just a perfect fall sweet treat, and great to bring to pot lucks. Really. When Connie makes these for a pot luck, they are always one of the first things to go.
So there you go. Pumpkin bars. Give 'em a try.
--Adapted from Paul's Pumpkin Bars on allrecipes.com
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened, but cool
- 1/4 cup butter, softened, but cool
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a half sheet pan (13 x 18 inches) with non-stick cooking spray & set aside. (Note: original recipe calls for a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan.)
In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix into the wet ingredients until combined.
Spread the batter evenly over the bottom of the prepared sheet pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely before icing it.
While the baked bars cool, prepare the icing... Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar. Mix on low until sugar is incorporated, and then mix on medium to medium-high until creamy.
Once the bars are completely cooled, spread the frosting evenly over the top. Cut into bars and serve. Refrigerate leftovers.
Makes one half sheet pan of bars that can be cut into 24 to 48 bars, depending on the size you like.