Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting from Handle the Heat

Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting from Handle the Heat

I am completely shameless when it comes to pumpkin treats. Now that the weather is (kind of) matching the season, I’m craving all of them. Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin enchiladas (amazing – I will post next week!) you name it, if ‘pumpkin’ is attached I’m pretty much sold. While my version looks vastly different than Tessa Arias’ from Handle the Heat, I have to imagine they were just as amazing. To avoid eating the entire pan myself, I kept them in the fridge overnight and cut up into little pieces to share with my office. They are a definite crowd pleaser, perfect for your next potluck, book club or Fall soirée! Tessa, thank you for concocting these amazing little things and for a recipe even a non-baker like me can ace.


For the bars:

  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces) 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 (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (7.5 ounces) pumpkin puree

For the frosting:

    • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 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, plus more if needed I skipped this and added a splash of water instead


To make the bars:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 8 by 8-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.
  3. In another medium bowl whisk together the butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

I improvised the frosting and just whipped the ingredients in a regular bowl with a whisk. I’m sure that is why my end product looks so different than Tessa’s. I also only used less than half of the frosting itself, given the bars used an entire stick of butter I was feeling guilty slathering them with more butter/sugar! If you were to follow this recipe to a T, I’m sure you’d come up with fluffier, thicker frosting than my bars pictured but that was my preference!

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and smooth. Add in the cinnamon and salt. On low speed gradually add in the powered sugar until incorporated. Add in the vanilla and milk and increase the speed to medium-high. Beat until very light and fluffy. If too runny, add more powered sugar, If too thick, add more milk. Spread evenly all over the pumpkin bars.
  2. 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.

Let me know if you decide to make these bars and if so, what you thought of the recipe!






    • Savage Sentiments
      September 27, 2019 / 6:44 pm

      Seriously so awesome!

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