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Pumpkin Bars

Friday, October 31, 2014

Recipe adapted from Paula Deen.  [Recipe makes roughly 35 bars if using a 13"x18" half sheet pan (see side note below)].

Happy Halloween!  Although I haven't gone as pumpkin-crazy as I did last year around this time, I've still been trying out new pumpkin flavored sweets when I get the chance.  I've made this recipe twice now, and I think that my modifications on the second try did the trick.  The first change dealt with the height of the bars.  The original recipe results in bars that are a couple inches tall, so I basically halved that by increasing the pan size.  Next, I increased the cinnamon and added some freshly ground nutmeg and cloves to really let the pumpkin flavor come out.  Lastly, I chose to use my go-to cream cheese icing recipe rather than the original since mine has the perfect balance of tanginess to sweetness and has a smooth consistency (after many, many trials of adjusting the proportions and ingredients).

[Side note:  The following recipe can be cut in half and made in a 9"x13" pan.  It will make roughly 15 bars rather than 35 bars and the baking time may be several minutes longer].

INGREDIENTS:

Cake:
4 large eggs
11 2/3 ounces (1 2/3 cups) sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

9 1/2 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Frosting:
1 pound (2 packs) cream cheese, softened but still cool
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease a half sheet pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin on medium for 1 minute.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.  Stir together with a whisk.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until fully incorporated.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the center has some resistance and a toothpick comes out clean.  Transfer to a cooling rack.

For the frosting, add the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla to a stand mixer bowl, and beat on medium until any lumps are gone.  Add the powdered sugar and beat on low until uniform.  Ice the bars with an offset spatula and cut into bars.  [Side note:  To avoid the icing taking any crumbs with it while icing, freeze the cake 15 minutes before you plan to ice].

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