I strongly associate flavors like cinnamon, ginger and cloves with the fall because they are the main ingredients in pumpkin pie spice, which features in a lot of my recipes around this time of year. And I’m not the only one who uses those flavors more in the fall than other times of the year. Starbucks makes a Pumpkin Spice Latte and Mars even makes Pumpkin Spice M&Ms. The spices alone are enough to give me baking ideas for the fall, but once I saw those M&Ms, I wanted to do something to incorporated them into a spicy autumn treat and the result was Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodle Blondies.
These are a fall variation on my Snickerdoodle Blondies, a chewy vanilla bar cookie that has all the flavor of the bake sale classic. Since they’re blondies, I want them to stay nice and chewy in the center, so my recipe for the bar cookies doesn’t use any leavening, even though the original cookies call for cream of tartar and baking soda. The blondies are topped with a generous layer of sugar and pumpkin spice topping, made with cinnamon, ginger and cloves. On its own, the spice topping has an intensely spicy flavor because it has a very high ratio of spice to sugar, but it balances perfect with the buttery bars once you sprinkle it evenly on top of the batter before baking.
The bars are packed with Pumpkin Spice M&Ms, which blend well with the pumpkin spices from the spicy topping and add a nice hint of chocolate to each bite. The holiday M&Ms come in brown, orange and green, which give the bars a fun Halloween look. If you can’t find the Pumpkin Spice candies, you can simply substitute regular chocolate chips into the batter. If you want to make these without any chocolate, you can also omit the M&Ms completely and just keep the bars with a nice vanilla flavor inside. The will keep very well when stored in an airtight container for a few days.
Pumpkin Pie Spice Snickerdoodle Blondies
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Pumpkin Spice M&Ms (or chocolate chips)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar, for topping
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in salt, egg and vanilla extract until well combined. Add in flour and stir until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Fold in M&Ms. Spoon dough – it will be thick – into prepared baking dish and smooth it with a spatula into an even layer.
In a small bowl, stir together remaining 1 1/2 tbsp sugar with the ground cinnamon, ground ginger and ground cloves. Sprinkle dough evenly with sugar and spice mixture.
Bake for about 30-34 minutes, until bars are set and the edges are just very lightly browned. Cool in the pan before slicing.
Makes 16 large blondies.