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  • Mary Kay

Edna's Pumpkin Bars - Gary's FAVORITE!

As a kid I remember Edna (a close friend of the family) bringing pumpkin bars with that delicious cream cheese frosting to family and friend events. It grew to be one of my brother's favorite desserts.

Gary, was pretty young at the time and would find any excuse to pass by that pan of bars on the side table to stretch and reach up to snatch another one. It seems someone always made sure the platter of bars was near the edge so he didn’t have to reach up too far.

The frosting was something new to us since Mom did not bake or cook with cheeses, much less cream cheese. We still talk about those delicious bars today. And, I just happen to have her tasty recipe, because my sister, Nancy, honored Edna by including it in her family recipe binder that she crafted a number of years ago.

We could always count on Edna bringing a large pan of these delicious bars to family events, picnics, and other events. The flavorful memories are still there.

This is a delicious recipe with not a lot of ingredients. There’s no need to put a lot of spices in this recipe since you already have a full 15 ounces of pumpkin puree in it. Keep it simple with ground cinnamon and ginger. It pairs very well with cream cheese frosting.

This recipe serves 24-36 bars, depending on how large you cut them.

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

Prepare your pans:

- Since the recipe calls for a 10” x 15” baking pan, which I do not have, I made some calculations and used my 9” x 13” cake pan and a smaller 6” round cake pan. The bars were a little thicker than I anticipated but they turned out moist and delicious!

- Lightly butter the sides and inside bottom of the pan(s).

- Line with two sheets of parchment paper so you have extra parchment paper overhanging the sides, and no crinkles in the corners.

Gather up your Ingredients:

2 C Sugar

1 C Oil, vegetable

4 Eggs

15 oz can Pumpkin puree, NOT pie filling

2 C Flour

2 t Baking powder

1 t Baking soda

2 t Cinnamon, ground

½ t Ginger, ground

½ t Salt

1 C Nuts, pecans or walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

¾ C Butter, softened, not melted

4 oz Cream cheese

2 C Powdered sugar

The bar batter is easy to mix:

- In an electric stand mixer, beat the pumpkin puree, sugar, oil and eggs until well combined, just a couple of minutes.

- Scrap down the sides of the bowl to make sure all items are combined. Set aside.

- In a separate bowl, whisk all the dry items together, except for the nuts.

- With the be mixer on low, slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mix.

- Scrap down the sides of the bowl to make everything is mixed well.

- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan(s). Tap them on the counter to get rid of any large bubbles.

- Bake at 350F degrees for 15-20 minutes. Press your finger lightly on the top it should pop back. If an indentation remains, the bars need a little more baking.

- I usually check it at the 15-minute mark and rotate the pan 180 degrees since my oven bakes uneven. Be careful not to move it too fast or the bars could sink.

- NOTE: When I baked the 9” x 13” pan and the 6” pan, I found the larger cake needed more baking time. I ended up baking the larger pan for 24 minutes.

Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting:

- With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and softened butter until fluffy.

- Add part of the powdered sugar and slowly beat.

- Add the rest of the powdered sugar on medium high to combine and make the frosting fluffy, 3-5 minutes.

- Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting onto the completely cooled bars.

NOTE: I usually make a double frosting recipe for these Pumpkin Bars, with some tweaks. Here’s my double recipe below:

1 C Butter, softened

½ C Shortening, white Crisco

8 oz Cream cheese

4-5 C Powdered sugar

2 t Vanilla extract

- Beat the butter, shortening and cream cheese until fluffy.

- Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar on low speed until well combined.

- Add another 2 cups of powdered sugar on low speed until combined.

- Add the vanilla extract and beat the frosting on medium to high speed for 5 minutes until fluffy.

- The remaining cup (or part) the powdered sugar can be used if you want it thicker. I usually make it a little thicker if I plan to pipe the frosting. A thicker frosting will hold the design of the piping tip much better.

- If I just plan to spread the frosting on the bars, I do not use the extra cup of powdered sugar.

Decorate the bars (optional):

- Make the bars pretty with fall-colored sprinkles.

- Or, drizzle with a thick caramel.

- Decorate with little pumpkin gummy candies.

- Use your creativity to get the “look” you like.

- If someone is averse to nuts in the bars, place a half of a pecan or walnut on top of the frosting so others can enjoy the nuts.

Enjoy this seasoned and very popular recipe from a friend of the family. Edna has been gone for many years, but she would be pleased as punch to know that our family still makes and enjoys her pumpkin bar recipe. She would be especially pleased to know that Gary still likes the bars and remembers that she used to bring them just for him to share with the rest of us.

Whatever memories you have of special holiday recipes or flavors, “Bake your own Memories!”

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