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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

by on October 8, 2009 · 37 comments

I woke up this morning knowing I wanted to make something with cream cheese swirled through it. The problem was, I couldn’t choose a recipe. After looking through a bunch and reading reviews, I decided to go with Swirled Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars from Sunset.

With only 6 tablespoons of butter, the bars were moist and cakey and stiff enough so that you could stack them. I liked that the pumpkin batter wasn’t too rich because the cream cheese topping balanced it out.

I modified the recipe a bit by using unsalted butter, adding salt, and a bit of vanilla. If you have some, a bit of orange peel added to the pumpkin might be good as well. Also, if you need to halve this recipe, a 9×9 inch pan works perfectly.

NOTE: If you do not use the pan size indicated (15×10 or half batch in a 9×9), you will probably need to adjust bake time! For instance, if you use a 13×9 inch pan instead of a 15×10 inch pan, you’ll have thicker bars which will probably need more time in the oven.

cream cheese pumpkin bars


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Pumpkin flavored brownies with cream cheese swirled throughout
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24
  • 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (288 grams)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (240 grams)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (220 grams)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (48 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 15x10 inch pan with non-stick foil or just spray with cooking spray.
  2. Pumpkin Batter: Mix together the butter and sugar. With a mixing spoon or whisk, beat in eggs, pumpkin, and water until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg together; stir into batter. Spread all but a few tablespoons batter evenly in prepared pan. Reserve the few tablespoons of batter
  3. Swirl: In a second bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add egg and beat just until it’s mixed in. Drop tablespoons of cheese mixture over pumpkin batter, then drag a knife through to make marbles. Drop reserved tablespoons of pumpkin batter over top. The reason for this is, there’s a lot of white batter, so putting a few tablespoons of pumpkin batter on top gives more of a contrast.
  4. Bake on center rack until pumpkin batter springs back when touched, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, then chill for an hour or more. Cut into 24 bars.

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Published on October 8, 2009

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

sherri October 8, 2009 at 2:13 pm

I want these. Now! Yum!

Judy October 8, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Looks yummy. I’m going to try it with either splenda or agave nectar – I’m haing problems with sugar lately. Glad you’re feeling better.

LisAway October 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm

YUM! I love all things pumpkin and these look SUPER. It seems nearly every recipe calls for one cup of pumpkin puree, but there is no can that is just that amount. Someone could make a killing by inventing a one cup sized can to sell pumpkin in.

There’s no canned pumpkin in Poland, but you’d better believe that as soon as I get my hands on a pumpkin and cook and puree it I’ll be storing it in one cup increments in the freezer!

kim October 8, 2009 at 2:40 pm

I have some cream cheese to use up, so I’ll halve this recipe. looks yummy!

dawn October 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm

OK I love these. Must try.

Dianna October 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm

I’ve been surfing around for a good pumpkin cheesecake combination. I’ll definitely give these a try. THANKS!

Rina October 8, 2009 at 3:35 pm

I just picked up canned pumpkin from Trader Joe’s yesterday – can’t wait to try these!

Amanda October 8, 2009 at 4:51 pm

They look wonderful! I’v done that many times. Know exactly what you want then spend hours going through recipes to find the right one. LOL

clumbsycookie October 8, 2009 at 4:55 pm

So autumny Anna! We’re still having a bit of late summer here but I could easily eat these brownies! They have such a lovely color!

Mimi October 8, 2009 at 5:24 pm

These look delicious. You can’t go worng with a Sunset recipe!

Sara October 8, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Awesome! I can’t wait to make these.

bergamot October 8, 2009 at 7:50 pm

The pumpkin bars look lovely… really nice recipe. it’s bookmarked

leslie October 8, 2009 at 8:04 pm

These look amazing! Pumpkin is popping up all over the blogging world!

Megan October 8, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Those look much better than the pumpkin swirl brownies I made the other day. I’ll be posting it tomorrow on The Brownie Project.

I think I’ll try these instead.

justJENN October 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm

HM….I’ll have to try these! Without the cream cheese. Ha!

Katie October 9, 2009 at 5:20 am

Ohh they sound delicious and perfect for autumn

Sara October 9, 2009 at 8:24 am

Do you think this would work with ricotta in place of the cream cheese? I love pumpkin but not cream cheese (or cheesecake for that matter, weird right?)

Anna October 9, 2009 at 8:53 am

Sara, you’d have to experiment. My worry is that the texture would be too grainy.

LilSis October 9, 2009 at 10:23 am

These look so good! I LOVE pumpkin and have been getting in the mood to bake now that it’s finally cooling off a little here in CA. I even have a can of pumpkin in my pantry. :-)

Sara October 9, 2009 at 11:11 am

I will have to experiment with a really small portion….maybe adding some greek yogurt to the ricotta would make it smoother.

Have you thought about making a pumpkin pie with a meringue crust? I have been making a lot of pavlovas lately, and I’ve become a little obsessed with the idea of making mini pumpkin pies in a meringue crust. I can’t find anything online except lemon meringue pies upside down with the crust being the meringue. I’m wondering how you would bake them to get the meringue to cook without getting soggy from the filling. Any thoughts?

HeartofGlass October 9, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Wow. All I can say is wow–especially with the swirl of pumpkin on top…a stroke of genius!

Jennifer October 10, 2009 at 10:21 am

Wow, those look great, and the perfect thing to take to a halloween party.

Jenn October 11, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Holy Hannah these look amazing!!! One question – the pan I have is 15.5x10x1″ is that going to be deep enough or should I just halve the recipe into a 9×13? I really, really, want to make these, especially since the hubby saw the picture and started drooling!

Anna October 11, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Hi Hannah,

I think 15x10x1 is fine. In fact, I think most 15 inch pans are about an inch deep. You shouldn’t have any problems. The pumpkin batter spreads on really thin.

Jenn October 12, 2009 at 9:49 am

Thanks so much Anna! I’m running home to try these now! The perfect treat for mid-terms! Okay, and the season too…but really, mid-term stress baking is about to get even tastier!

Brandi October 21, 2009 at 8:00 pm

my dad loves pumkin. the only problem is he cant stand cream chesse. is there any way to modify this? something to put in place of the cream chesse?

Anna October 23, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I would just make regular pumpkin bars.

crare November 15, 2009 at 8:07 am

has anyone made these with agave? they look great but I wonder what the proportions would be substituting agave? i make pumpkin muffins with agave and they are fabulous…

vivian hill July 28, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I need & want the fruit pizza recipe, can’s seem to find it on this website, can you e-mail it to me.?????

thanks, vivian hill

vanessa October 11, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I tried out this recipe for the football dinner. Usually I do not try to make a new recipe, but I was determined to find a pumpkin recipe.
It should cook for an extra 5 minutes. I added food coloring to make a orange hue for the frosting.
My son loved it and he is a picky eater. I wasn’t too sure because I had nothing to compare it too. I will have my husband try it. I do like it but I need to add some more spice. Any suggestions?

Amie October 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm

I made these exactly as the recipe called for and they were delicious! Everyone loved them. Thanks for a great recipe.

Nancy Baggett October 27, 2010 at 7:54 am

These look great. Funny, just before I saw your recipe, I bought 3 cans of pumpkin, so I’m in the mood already. Now I can’t decide whether to make these or my pumpkin drops with cream cheese frosting. Such hard decisions…..

Laura October 30, 2010 at 10:50 am

I made these last week for guests…they were amazing! I’m making them again today for a party. (The only thing I altered is the amount of water. Since I boil my own pumpkin, there is typically a little more water in it than canned.)

Chelsea November 22, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I just made these and they were awesome! Loved the cheesecakey flavor and texture. Here’s my version:

the blissful baker November 23, 2010 at 8:13 am

i made these this past weekend. they are fabulous!! everyone loved them. thanks for sharing :)

Denise November 24, 2010 at 10:52 pm

I made these this year instead of the pumpkin roll. They are really good, a nice change and I think the kids will enjoy them as well as the adults. Look forward to one with a dollop of cream tomorrow.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Brandy November 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I just made this, following the directions exactly & it is very yummy… It is just that it’s like a cake instead of like a brownie. Any advice on how to make it more dense like brownies?

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