Last week when I was avoiding doing my work, I started talking to one of my very best friends, Liz. We were catching up on life and she was scrolling through recipes on the blog and we were talking about them. She said she was going to make the Hello Dolly Bars that I published earlier this year and it made me think about a time when I made a fall version with pumpkin in them. I realized that I needed a new pumpkin recipe for all the bakers looking for a tasty fall recipe. I am not prepared to fully dive into pie baking yet, but these Pumpkin Pie Bars are a wonderful bridge recipe to help prepare for the holiday baking season. The original recipe called for pecans, but just as I did with the Hello Dolly Bars, I substituted the nuts with pretzels and threw in a few mini chocolate chips just for fun. I hope you make this recipe soon – your friends and family will thank you!
To prepare for this recipe, I lined a 9-by-13 inch baking pan with parchment paper and used binder clips to hold the paper in place. I also preheated my oven to 350 F degrees. The ingredients that I got ready for this recipe are 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup of cold cubed salted butter, 1 cup old-fashioned oats, 1/2 cup of crushed pretzels, 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon of course sea salt, 1 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese, 1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice, 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3 large eggs.
For the crust, I combined 1/4 cup of granulated sugar with the brown sugar, flour and 1/2 teaspoon of course sea salt. I mixed them all together and then used my pastry cutter to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture. Next, I mixed in the oats, pretzels and chocolate chips. I reserved 1 cup of the mixture and spread the rest across the bottom of my prepared pan and I used my hands to pat the mixture down. Then, I baked the crust for 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, I used my hand mixer to whip the softened cream cheese, the pumpkin pie spices, 1/2 teaspoon of course sea salt and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar together until it was well combined and smooth. Then, I added in the pumpkin and vanilla and whipped them all together. Finally, I added in the 3 eggs that I gently beat together first. I made sure everything was mixed together and let the filling rest while the crust finished baking. Once the crust came out of the oven I gently poured the filling over the warm crust and used a spatula to spread it evenly into all the corners. After that, I spread the reserved 1 cup of crust over the top as a topping and put the bars into the oven.
I checked my bars at 25 minutes and they need a little longer for the filling to be all set up, I ended up baking them for 29 minutes, so I would recommend 25-30 minutes as a baking time for these bars. You can see where I slid a knife into the middle of the bars to test them. I knew they were ready when the knife was clean and the filling had puffed up evenly across the whole pan. I let them cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before I used the parchment paper to move them to a cutting board to slice them.
I will say that when I first sliced into these – I was so pleasantly surprised by the crisp crust on the bottom. It wasn’t hard but it reminded me of pie cruse where the very bottom is crisp and closer to the filling the more tender it became. Overtime though, the crust did become softer so these are best eaten the day they are baked. I liked that the pretzels added some much needed texture change to the bars and the cream cheese gave the pumpkin a nice richness that I love in pumpkin pie. The mini chocolate chips are nice little surprises every once in a while but are not needed by any means if you are a pumpkin pie purist. Ultimately, I really liked these pumpkin bars and kept finding myself coming back for little tastes throughout the day. I think you will really enjoy these if you need a new fall treat to try soon!
Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Bars
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (180 grams)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (107 grams)
- 1 teaspoon course sea salt (3 grams)
- 3/4 cup cubed cold butter (170 grams)
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats (89 grams)
- 1/2 cup crushed pretzels (60 grams)
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (44 grams) (optional)
- 1 8-ounce package softened cream cheese (227 grams)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin (426 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 grams)
- 3 large lightly beaten eggs
- Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Line a 9-by-13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl combine, flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the cold butter until crumbly. Stir in the oats, pretzels and mini chocolate chips (if using). Reserve 1 cup for topping.
- Press the rest of the mixture into the prepare baking pan and bake for 15 minutes.
- While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. In a medium bowl beat the softened cream cheese, spices, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and other 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt until well mixed and very smooth. Beat in the pumpkin and vanilla. Then added the lightly beaten eggs and beat until combined. Let the filling rest until the crust is finished baking.
- Pour the filling on top of the warm crust and spread out evenly, being sure the filling reaches the corners of the baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining crumb topping over the filling.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. You will notice that the filling has slightly puffed evenly across the whole pan.
- Cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
- Use the parchment paper to remove the bars from the baking pan and place on a cutting board. Slice into bars.
- Best eaten the same day but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Recipe adapted from Kim Chambers Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bars in the Taste of Home Pumpkin Cookbook, Fall 2020