Sunday, April 13, 2014

Recipe Win: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

I know a pumpkin recipe is out of season for spring, but I made this recipe back in January and then was so busy that I couldn't finish writing it up. I think I made these as the dessert to our intimidating but fabulously successful beef tenderloin meal.


Cookies and Cups lightened up pumpkin cream cheese swirl bars


Cream cheese swirl
  • 1 (8 oz) block 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp water (I used French vanilla creamer because our milk was frozen (arg!) and I wanted to add more flavor)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (adding more flavor, no reason to leave it as plain cream cheese!)
  • 16 oz package angel food cake mix
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon ( my cinnamon is strong so I only used 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp butter extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.

With a mixer, combine the swirl ingredients -- cream cheese, sugar, non-dairy creamer, and vanilla extract.  Beat until smooth and creamy.
Fluffy cream cheese mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry angel food cake mix, pumpkin puree, water, pumpkin pie spice,  cinnamon, butter extract, and vanilla extract.  Mix until smooth.  

Pumpkin-y batter
You're going to make two layers of batter to ensure you get a good blend.  Pour half of the pumpkin mixture into the pan and add dollops of half the cream cheese mixture. Swirl gently with a knife a couple times to combine. 
Swirled first layer.
Do the same with the remaining batter, add the rest of the pumpkin batter on top and swirl in dollops of the rest of the cream cheese mixture. 
Swirled messy second layer
Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the cake part comes out clean (not coated in batter).
All done.
Another good indicator that it's done is when it slightly pulls away from the sides of the pan. 

Closeup of the edges pulled away. 


I loved this pumpkin bar.   My previous angel food bars turned out to be a bummer, they ended up really flat and not very good, so I was happy these actually worked out.  These were cake-like and a little dense with a wonderful swirl of cream cheese. So even though pumpkin is more of a fall flavor, if you're looking for a good dessert, make this!  And they are definitely bar format, denser than a cake.  

It would be neat to add some cocoa powder to the cake mixture to see if you could make a chocolate version. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!