Oh yum. The icing alone makes these bars totally worth it. I ordered The Complete Magnolia Bakery cookbook a few weeks ago and have been anxious to try one of their many delicious sounding recipes. Most of the recipes look super easy and seem like something your mom would make, total comfort food. Mike and I hit up Magnolia Bakery in NYC several times when we were there, and I fell in love with their cupcakes, so I had to add their cookbook to my collection, well one of them at least (I think they have three).
So the pumpkin bars. We were expecting something a little more bar-like, a little more dense. The bars are in the same chapter as brownies so I didn't expect them to be so cake-like. Not that there's anything at all wrong with that, but you should know what to expect. Actually my one complaint about the cookbook is lack of pictures. I love being able to see what the finished product should look like. You could easily use whole wheat flour in this recipe, and some plump juicy raisins would work nicely as well. I enjoyed that the cake wasn't that sweet, it was a nice balance with the super sweet and decadent icing.
These bars are so easy to make, they took almost no time at all. I think they would totally work as cupcakes and might go that route next time. As I type this we've eaten them all and I can't wait to make another batch. And the icing, oh the icing. Have I mentioned I love icing? This was probably one of the best cream cheese icings I have ever had. I must admit that we didn't wait the two hours you're supposed to chill it though, I think we made it about 45 minutes until I couldn't handle the temptation and just iced the bars anyways. Twas divine.
Magnolia Bakery's PUMPKIN BARS with CREAM CHEESE ICING
For the bars:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil (preferably Canola)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (see note)
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
3 Tbs unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
3/4 tsps vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (see Note)
NOTE: To toast the pecans, place on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant.
Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease and lightly flour a 13 X 9 inch baking pan.
To make the bars: in a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stir in the pecans. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean.Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate icing 2 to 3 hours, but no longer, to thicken before using.
Ice the top of the cooled cake with the cream cheese icing. Garnish with pecans and desired.
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