PUMPKIN BARS WITH BROWN SUGAR FROSTING
Grandma Carol makes the best pumpkin desserts. Every year, I look forward to spending Thanksgiving Day at her house with a table full of food, surrounded by family. My goal is always to be seated by the pumpkin bars—the aromatic smell and creamy frosting gets me every time. But this year, she asked me to supply the pumpkin treats. If we're being honest, it's equal parts scary and exciting.
Brown sugar is the star of these rich bars—both the base and the frosting. The frosting gets a little grit from the sugar and is satisfying without being sickeningly sweet.
You can easily double this recipe and make it in a larger 13x9 pan—which you might want to do anyway. The original recipe calls for about half a can of pumpkin, and what are you going to do with that pumpkin anyway? Also, these are going to go fast at any Thanksgiving celebration.
for the frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
for the bars:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (7.5 ounces) pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8 by 8-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang.
In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.
In another medium bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. Add butter mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and smooth. Add in cinnamon and salt. On low speed, gradually add in powdered sugar until incorporated. Add in vanilla and milk and increase speed to medium-high. Beat until very light and fluffy. Too runny? Add more powdered sugar. Too thick? Add more milk. Spread evenly over pumpkin bars.
Cut into squares before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the fridge for up to 5 days.