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Pumpkin Bars with Brown Butter Frosting

Yield: 30 to 36 bars

These cakelike bar cookies use elements that are both traditional and fancy: a simple pumpkin cake base topped with a nutty brown-butter frosting.


For the bars

  • Unsalted butter, for the pan
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 15-oz. can unsweetened pumpkin purée
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 12 oz. (24 Tbs.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger, for garnish

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 230
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 130
  • Fat (g): 14
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6
  • Cholesterol (mg): 45
  • Sodium (mg): 120
  • Carbohydrates (g): 24
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Sugar (g): 18
  • Protein (g): 2


Make the bars

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F. Butter a large rimmed baking sheet (12×16 inches).
  • In a large bowl, combine the sugar and fresh ginger. Use your fingers to rub the ginger into the sugar. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, and salt, and whisk to combine.
  • In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 22 minutes.
  • Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

Make the frosting

  • In a medium saucepan, melt 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) of the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan every few seconds, until the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn dark brown, about 5 minutes. Immediately transfer to a shallow heatproof bowl, scraping the browned solids into the bowl, and let cool for 10 minutes. Refrigerate until solid, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the brown butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the remaining 8 oz. of butter and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the cream cheese, and beat on medium until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and salt, and mix on low speed to combine. With the mixer on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined. Increase
    the speed to medium high, and beat until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Using an offset spatula, spread the top of the chilled bars with the frosting. Sprinkle with the crystallized ginger. Cut into squares and serve.


Rate or Review

Reviews (3 reviews)

  • user-6915132 | 03/05/2020

    Divine! Rave reviews from family and friends. Don't skip making the brown butter, it totally makes it special!

  • SuzyK | 12/17/2017

    Really great recipe. Moist crumb, delicious icing. I made it in a 10x15 “ airbake pan and it was just fine.

  • Megan5663 | 12/12/2017

    I made this recipe for a Christmas party and received rave reviews. The cake was straightforward to make and the frosting was absolutely delicious! This will likely enter my holiday baking repertoire.

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