Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Bars

Ok, so I am definitely on a baking kick lately.  I think it can be blamed on the weather turning cold, the cans of Libby's Pumpkin Puree in my pantry, and the holiday events coming up.  I must admit, I'm already in the Christmas spirit!  No I haven't loaded my favorite Christmas tunes on my iPod yet, but I have done a little early shopping!

Last week I received an early Christmas package in the mail.  My mother-in-law sent me the 2011 Southern Living Christmas Cookbook.  It is a beautiful book with pages filled with holiday recipes and decorating ideas.  As I was flipping through, I came across this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Bars.  The photo made my mouth water and I needed to make a dessert for our staff Thanksgiving lunch this week, so I thought I'd give this one a try.

Pumpkin Spice Bars
from Southern Living
Yield: 2 dozen bars

1 package spice cake mix (I used Betty Crocker, they used Duncan Hines)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (another favorite holiday ingredient!)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup canned unsweetend pumpkin (I used Libby's)
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped white chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/3 cup uncooked regular oats
Powdered sugar (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine first 4 ingredients, mixing well with a fork.  Reserve 1 cup crumbs for streusel topping.  Press remaining crumbs into a lightly greased 13"x9" pan.
2.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until puffy and set.  Cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes.
3. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 30 seconds until creamy.  Add brown sugar, pumpkin, egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla; beat until blended.  Pour filling over baked crust.
4.  Stir white chocolate, 1 Tbsp. melted butter, and oats into reserved 1 cup streusel.  Sprinkle over filling.
5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until edges begin to brown and center is set.  Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.  Cut into bars.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

This recipe is easy, but I'll be honest, it is a bit time consuming.  Do not try to make this if you are in a hurry!  This is a make ahead recipe.  After getting off from work Sunday afternoon I took the time to relax and do my bible study in between the steps of baking the crust, waiting for it to cool, mixing the pumpkin cream cheese filling, and then baking and cooling again.

They turned out delicious and I had many great comments from friends at our Thanksgiving lunch!  This recipe will be tagged a keeper and will hopefully be repeated for holiday events to come.

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