Bars or cake? That’s the question I always ask when it comes to Pumpkin Bars. Most recipes titled Pumpkin Bars are actually more like pumpkin flavored sheet cake. Betty Crocker has one called Pumpkin Cookie Bars that might be more like a bar cookie, but so many Pumpkin Bars are soft, cake-like and probably best eaten with a fork. The “Harvest Pumpkin Bars” from The King Arthur Cookie Companion fall into that category.
Harvest Pumpkin Bars are different from King Arthur’s Pumpkin Cake Bars . For one thing, they are baked in a 9 inch square or a 7×11 inch pan. Harvest Pumpkin Bars call for a much higher ratio of pumpkin and slightly less oil, and they do not call for brown sugar. The result is a very brightly colored orange bar with a strong pumpkin flavor. The bars have a cream cheese frosting which we loved. At first I thought it might not be enough, but it turned out to be more than enough to cover a 9 inch square. We also enjoyed the addition of chopped crystallized ginger. I thought about leaving it off, but the zing of the ginger worked really well with the pumpkin flavor.
So the question remains — bars or cake? Whatever you call them, the Harvest Pumpkin Bars are tasty and could pass as either a bar or cake. I made them in a 9 inch square pan, but next time I might make them in a 7×11 inch glass pan and serve them right out of the dish.
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 pack (4 oz) softened cream cheese (114 grams)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (42 grams), softened
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar (210 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional 1/4 cup diced crystallized ginger and/or chopped pecans
- Dried cranberries may also be sprinkled over the top.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 inch square baking pan or line with nonstick foil. Alternatively, you can use a 7x11 inch baking dish
- With an electric mixer, beat together oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, baking powder, salt, and spices.
- Add the flour and stir until blended.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean -- about 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
- In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese and butter until well combined. Add powdered sugar and mix until creamy, then beat until fluffy (it's fairly stiff). Beat in vanilla.
- Spread cream cheese over bars. If desired, sprinkle with nuts and crystallized ginger.
- Cut into 16 bars.