It is the holiday season and the potlucks, ballet recitals and parties have begun! I've been fiddling with this recipe for years and I think I've finally found a version that fulfills my expectations. (When it comes to baked goods, I always have some!) These are wonderful pumpkin bars. Moist but not greasy, they are full of pumpkin flavor. Not too sweet, one could argue that they might even be a little bit good for you.
NOTE: This recipe makes a full sheet pan of bars PLUS a 9 inch square to leave at home for the family. I use commercial half sheet pans which may be a little a larger than what you have at home. It would also make 2-13x9 pans full of cake or a bijillion cupcakes. Frosted with a cream cheese icing, they can be decorated with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for a little salty addition.
I bake mine in a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. When they are cool, I can lift the entire pan of bars out of the sheet pan and frost, cut and decorate them. For potlucks, it's great to just be able to lift the frosted bars back into the sheet pan for transport.
Pumpkin Bars for a Crowd
8 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups of granulated sugar
1 large (29 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 cups AP flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Preheat the overn to 350 degrees. Mix together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce and pumpkin until thoroughly combined. Stir in the dry ingredients to make a thick batter. Spread into the prepared pans (fill 2/3 full - batter will expand) and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when you press it lightly with your finger. Let cool completely, then frost.
Cream Cheese Icing
2 packages of cream cheese (8oz each)
2 sticks of butter
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Mix everything together with a whisk attachment until light and fluffy. This frosting keeps well in the refrigerator or the freezer; just rewhip before using.