Pumpkin season is upon us. And what better way to get into the season than by making these delicious pumpkin bars! Pumpkins were first discovered and cultivated around 7,500 years ago in Central America and Mexico and were cherished for their versatility and longevity. Our ancestors cultivated the pumpkin for its thick flesh that was ideal for times of scarcity and later used the pumpkin seeds that are packed with nutritional benefits.
The first pumpkin recipe published in America came from John Josselyn’s New-England’s Rarities Discovered with diced pumpkin being cooked down all day with butter and spices. (1) It wasn’t until the 1800s that pumpkin was made into sweet pumpkin dishes like pumpkin pie and the modern day pumpkin bars and dessert bars.
Pumpkin bars are a delightful relative to pumpkin pie or pumpkin pie bars. My pumpkin bars are easy to make with a simple gluten-free crust that doesn’t require messing with cold butter and wheat flour. And the filling ingredients only require a blender or mixer! These pumpkin bars are just like pumpkin cheesecake bars without any of the complications, and will be a crowd pleaser for holiday gatherings and parties.
I used organic pumpkin purée, which is loaded with beta-carotene — beta-carotene is necessary to convert into vitamin A, which is important for vision, skin and brain function. Use any leftover pumpkin purée for a pumpkin spice latte or pumpkin pie oatmeal. Grass-fed cream cheese and mascarpone contain fat soluble vitamins of A, D and K2 and higher amounts of short-chain fatty acids, CLA and omega-3s, which contribute to heart health and lowering inflammation in the body.
Instead of using refined cane sugar or corn syrup, I used maple syrup, which is a natural sweetener and has a lower glycemic impact on the body. It also contains more minerals and antioxidants than regular sugar. Pastured eggs provide omega fatty acids and help reduce heart disease. Cloves kill parasites, improve blood circulation and reduce gum disease and are just a few benefits that cloves provide to your body. And vanilla is a powerful antioxidant and natural antibiotic and adds depth and a warm flavor to your pumpkin bar recipe.
How to make Pumpkin Bars:
We’ll start out by making our simple gluten-free pie crust and adding it to the bottom of a 9×13 or 8×8 baking dish. The crust will be thicker in an 8×8 dish. Bake the pie crust for about 15 minutes and begin making your filling.
Add your cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger and cloves to a high speed blender or food processor and blend away.
You want the filling batter to be smooth and creamy.
Remove your crust from the oven and add in your pumpkin bar filling.
Instead of pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting, we just added the cream cheese to the bars. Place the whole dish into the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Top your pumpkin bars with coconut whipped cream, if desired.
Pumpkin Bars Recipe
- Gluten-Free Pie Crust
- 16 ounces grass-fed cream cheese
- 8 ounces grass-fed mascarpone cheese
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- Whipped coconut cream (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Prepare crust and bake in a 9x13 or 8x8 baking dish for 15 minutes. (Note: crust will be thicker in an 8x8 dish)
- In a food processor, add in cream cheese, mascarpone, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.
- Process ingredients until completely smooth.
- Remove crust from oven and fill with cream cheese mixture.
- Place the bars back in the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Top with whipped coconut cream, if desired.