Pumpkin Bars

What would the holiday season be without a pan of these delectably moist pumpkin bars?  I cut this recipe out of the Boston Globe pre-internet which, by default, is more years ago than I care to admit.  You can find versions of it now all over the internet, but this is the one I have been making for every Thanksgiving and through the holidays since I can remember.

Although the technique is that for a traditional cake batter, the impossibly moist texture more closely resembles a Texas sheet cake.  As a bonus, it is frosted with my favorite version of cream cheese frosting.  For a long while, I didn’t care much for cream cheese frosting because I found it overly rich and cloyingly sweet.  I found a very simple way to fix that by substituting freshly grated lemon rind for the vanilla extract and tweaking the ratio of cream cheese to butter.  In my opinion, lemon always makes things taste fresher and lighter.  I like my version of cream cheese frosting so well that I have no desire to try any other.

When my kids were little, we attended a play date at a twins club mom’s home.  She had made some pumpkin bars for the group of twin moms and their kids.  I sampled a bar which I thought was OK, not great.  Before pumpkin season was over, I made a batch for one of our monthly twins club meetings; and the mom whose pumpkin bars I had sampled came over to ask me for my recipe!  🙂

Pumpkin Bars

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  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 15- or 16-oz. can of pumpkin
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt


Grease 15×10 cookie sheet with raised sides.  Layer with wax paper; then grease wax paper.

Beat together eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin until well mixed and fluffy.  Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Spread in prepared pan and bake at 350o  for approx. 25 to 30 mins.

Cool, frost & cut into bars.

Fran’s Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tbl. butter, softened
  • 1 tbl. freshly grated lemon rind
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Cream butter and cheese together.  Add grated lemon rind and confectioners’ sugar.  You can add a little water or milk if necessary to get desired consistency.

Fran’s Notes

Because I am lactose intolerant, I prefer less cream cheese frosting on desserts than most people.  I usually make just half of the above recipe so that the bars have a thin coat of frosting.  Most people like a thicker frosting, and the above quantity will give you that.  It is also enough to frost the tops of two 9×5 loaf cakes.

Source:   Bars – from an old recipe I cut out of the Boston Globe.  Frosting – a frantastic original

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