Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

pumpkin barsI refuse to skip right over Thanksgiving to Christmas, regardless of how much society pressures us all to do so. Now, before we have a Starbucks-cup-level riot about Christmas on this blog, let me be clear: I’m Catholic, and I love Christmas and the joyous preparations that go along with it. I’m just not ready to skip straight from carving a pumpkin to decking the halls.

Seriously, folks, why do we want to rush through the wonderful month of November? November has plenty to offer; the last of the season’s leaves hanging brilliantly on trees, warm afternoons and cold evenings, Election Day, Veterans Day, and the tradition of gratitude (and pie) on Thanksgiving. We skip right over this month, rushing toward “the holidays” without really taking a chance to enjoy that last bit of fall. And so, please consider these pumpkin bars, which are sort of like cake and come from my Better Homes & Garden Baking book, my rebellion against the steamrolling of pumpkin season by peppermint season. Live on, pumpkin season! For a few more weeks, at least.


Pumpkin Bars

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Browned Butter Frosting

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cloves until completely combined.

Add eggs, pumpkin puree, and vegetable oil, stirring well to completely combine, with no dry streaks or lumps remaining.

Pour batter into an ungreased 15 x 10 x 1 pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 2 hours before frosting.

To make the frosting, melt butter in a small saucepan until light golden brown; this will take a few minutes, and you’ll want to swish the butter in the pan every so often, then use a whisk to get the browning bits off of the sides and bottom. Remove from heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla, and browned butter. Beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, then check your consistency; if necessary, add more milk, about 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to reach a spreadable consistency.

Pour frosting over pumpkin bars and spread using an offset spatula. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.


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