Filed under: Bars / Fruit Based Bars
November 10, 2021

Gooey Pumpkin Spice Bars

Soft and gooey pumpkin bars made with pumpkin puree and flavored with pumpkin spice. The brown butter in the bars amplifies the spices and the tangy cream cheese buttercream rounds out these flavors perfectly.

Yield: 16
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Soft and gooey pumpkin bars made with pumpkin puree and flavored with pumpkin spice. The brown butter in the bars amplifies the spices and the tangy cream cheese buttercream rounds out these flavors perfectly. It all happens in one bowl and if you add caramel on top these will be the most impressive but simple fall inspired bars. 

 

pumpkin spice bars

These bars underwent many, many tests. The initial idea was a blondie but with the pumpkin puree there was too much, err, softening agent, in there to get a chewy texture. Once I stopped trying to make them something they weren’t going to be (or didn’t want to be) and leaned into the gooey bar texture, it all clicked. I had gotten to the exact texture and flavor I wanted; on the seventh trial I slapped on some cream cheese buttercream.. And then we couldn’t stop eating them. They didn’t need to be blondies, they were gooey bars and they were perfect. 

Also, a special note! This recipe went out to my email subscribers first with a request that if they made them, they send over some feedback. So far I’ve had three successful remakes of these, here are notes from two: 

Lauren: I was expecting something different…more of a chewy brownie texture, but I did REALLY enjoy them. I didn’t have pumpkin spice so I did 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t ginger, 1/4 t nutmeg 1/8 t allspice and cloves. I would up the amounts a little more next time…and would definitely use it already mixed if I had it. I eyeballed the spices for the buttercream (which was lovely and creamy) I used a goats milk caramel that I had leftover from a cake. 

Charity: I made the below recipe to share with friends over the weekend and they came out perfect.  My friends loved them and ate the whole pan.  I didn’t have or want to make caramel but I thought it was still great without that swirled on top.  Thanks for sharing the recipe.  Will definitely make these again! 

Ingredients for Gooey Pumpkin Spice Bars

Butter: this will be browned so it’s fine if it’s cold. 

Pumpkin puree: canned or homemade; I like Libby’s. 

Brown sugar: Light or dark is fine. 

Flour: All purpose, measure by grams if you can and if not shake the flour over the measuring cup and level it. 

Eggs: One large egg and a yolk, it’s fine if they are cold. 

Pumpkin pie spice: Make your own if you prefer or just add a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves (or leave out whichever of those you don’t like!). 

Sour cream: Important to keep the bars from baking up dry. Yogurt or labneh is a fine substitute. 

 

pumpkin spice bars

FAQ on Gooey Pumpkin Spice Bars

What brand pumpkin puree do you recommend? 

Libby’s, because it’s thick and not watery, but make sure it’s pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie puree (that has added sugars and spices). 

What should I do with the leftover egg white? 

You’ll make these small batch double chocolate chip cookies, of course! 

What can I substitute the sour cream with? 

Plain or vanilla greek yogurt or labneh if you have it. Don’t skip this, the bars are kind of dry without it. 

Got any caramel recipe recommendations? 

Do I ever! This apple Cider Caramel is my favorite one on the site. 

Can I skip the buttercream? 

PLEASE DON’T! The bars are good by themselves but they are SO good with the buttercream and I don’t want you to have them without it because I want you to have the full experience. 

pumpkin spice bars

Recipe for Gooey Pumpkin Spice Bars

 

Gooey Pumpkin Spice Bars

Brown butter pumpkin spice bars made with pumpkin spice and pumpkin puree, topped with cream cheese buttercream.
pumpkin spice bars
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Yields: 16
5 from 1 vote

Ingredients

Brown Butter Pumpkin Spice Bars

  • 1 cup butter 183g
  • 1 cup brown sugar 210g
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 large egg plus 1 yolk
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree 125g
  • 1 ⅔ cups all purpose flour 222g
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • ½ cup butter softened
  • ½ brick cream cheese softened (4 oz)
  • 1 ⅓ cups powdered sugar organic
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Caramel sauce to swirl in the top (if you want to make it yourself, search my site for ‘caramel’)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line and grease a square metal 8 or 9” pan with parchment paper.
  • Brown the butter: In a saucepan, melt the butter then turn the heat to medium high and cook the butter as it spits and sputters, foams and then ‘browns’: you’ll see brown bits at the bottom of the pan, the butter will go mostly quiet and you’ll smell a nuttiness.
  • Immediately pour the butter into a heatproof bowl, making sure to scrape the little brown bits into the bowl (that’s where the flavor is!!). Add the sugar, salt, vanilla and pumpkin spice and whisk for a few minutes, until it’s glossy.
  • Add the egg and yolk and whisk aggressively for a few minutes until smooth.
  • Whisk in the pumpkin puree, sour cream and flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until a cake tester comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely.
  • For the buttercream: the cream cheese should be very soft. Use the back of a rubber spatula to press it into a bowl and smooth out any lumps. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Spread over cooled bars. Add a couple of dollops of caramel and swirl it into the buttercream.

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