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stack of pumpkin cream cheese swirl bars

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours
  • Yield: 24 bars
  • Category: Bars
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Soft pumpkin bars filled with a simple cream cheese swirl. They’re fun and festive for fall gatherings and parties, not to mention so easy!


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (228g) pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Swirl

  • 8 ounces (224g) brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature*
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (32g) pepitas tossed in a sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease or line the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg and vanilla on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. On medium speed, beat in the pumpkin until combined. The mixture will look curdled; that’s ok.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. Do not overmix. The mixture will be thick. Spread 2/3 of the batter evenly into the prepared pan; it will be a relatively thin layer. The rest will be added in step 5.
  4. In a medium bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer filled with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until completely combined. Drop random spoonfuls on top of the pumpkin batter.
  5. Drop the remaining pumpkin batter on top of the spoonfuls of cream cheese. With a rubber spatula or knife, begin gently swirling the two together. Both mixtures are thick, so go slowly. Jiggle the pan back and forth to get the layers to settle into the pan. Don’t worry if it looks messy; everything will come together in nice swirls as the bars bake. Sprinkle cinnamon-pepitas on top of the swirled batter.
  6. Bake the bars for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Allow the bars to cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator for about 2 hours before cutting into squares. Leftover bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. They’re SO good on day 2!

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: These bars can be made 3 days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Bars freeze well, up to 3 months. Simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Pumpkin Pie Spice: You can make your own 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice by blending 1/2 teaspoon each of ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and ground allspice.
  3. Cream Cheese: Don’t use cream cheese spread; use brick-style cream cheese. Full-fat preferred, though low fat works too. Don’t use fat free.
  4. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Rainbow Whisk | Libby’s Pure Pumpkin | Pumpkin Pie Spice | 9×13 Baking Pan
  5. Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Keywords: pumpkin cream cheese bars, pumpkin bars