Monday, October 17, 2016

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

If you know me, you know that I'm always looking for new and yummy pumpkin recipes. Sweet, savory, and everything in between, I love all things pumpkin. So I decided that my pumpkin collection needed an easy "picky uppy" something that would be perfect for you to make for a party or your next family get-together. Then I found this recipe on a blog called Sally's Baking Addiction. (if you haven't checked it, out, you simply must. LOTS of fabu recipes there!)
 So here we go! They're moist and cakey, and the cream cheese swirl is what pushes it over the top. SO rich and perfect, and the cinnamon pumpkin seeds add just the right amount of added crunch.
 Having a party? Now you know what dessert to make! Just place them on a tray and watch them disappear. Better yet, make a double batch, and then you'll have leftovers! More is more!

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Swirl
 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup pepitas tossed in a sprinkle of ground cinnamon

 Heat oven to 350°F. Grease or line the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
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.
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.
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.
 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. Sprinkle cinnamon-pepitas on top of the swirled batter.
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.

 As stated on the SBA blog, 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.
Definitely use the foil or parchment as the recipe directs. It makes it SO much easier to lift the whole batch out of the pan in one go. Then you can use a large knife to make perfect cuts, and you won't ruin your pan!

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