If you love pumpkin, but are getting a bit tired of baking pumpkin pies, you might want to mix things up a little bit with a pumpkin bar cookie. These Pumpkin Bars with Spice Glaze are a nice change of pace, but will still satisfy a pumpkin fan with their flavor. The bars are moist and tender, with a crumbly and almost pound cake-like texture to them, which is quite different from many dense and chewy pumpkin bar cookies. They’re topped off with a simple glaze that includes the same spices found in the bars – the bars themselves include a generous amount of pumpkin puree and a blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg – and adds sweetness while highlighting those spices.
The bars are made with a slightly unusual method for bar cookies, a method where the butter is cut into the flour mixture instead of being creamed together with the sugar. This is a method that is commonly used for shortbread, and makes for an exceptionally tender cookie – not a cakey or chewy one. The texture makes the cookies feel rich and satisfying, since they almost seem to melt in your mouth a bit as you eat them.
I recommend cutting these into small rectangular bars. A small piece is enough to satisfy the urge for something sweet, and with the melt-in-your-mouth texture of these bars, they can be quite rich if cut into large pieces. If you want a little variety, topping them with a thin layer of cream cheese icing that has been spiced with a little cinnamon would also be a good option.
Pumpkin Bars with Spice Glaze
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch each of cloves, nutmeg and ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 2 1/2 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease it.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and spices.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the cold, cut butter and beat for a few seconds to break it up. With the mixer on medium-low, gradually add in the flour mixture. Continue to add it gradually and keep mixing, until all the flour has been added and the butter has broken up into very small pieces. Mixture should look sandy.
Add in pumpkin puree and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Dough should start to come together. Transfer dough to prepared pan and press into an even layer.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the bars are set and spring back when lightly pressed.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
When bars are cool, prepare the glaze.
In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, melted butter, spices, vanilla and 1 1/2 tbsp water until ingredients come together and take on a smooth, spreadable consistency. If glaze is too stiff, add additional tablespoon or so of water of water. Pour glaze on top of bars and spread into an even layer.
Allow glaze to set for at least 1 hour before slicing.
Makes 30 rectangular bars.