This recipe is for one of my favorite desserts of all time. These Vegan Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting are the dairy and egg-free version of an absolute classic from my childhood. Beautifully spicy, moist cake paired with sweet, tangy frosting results in a snack cake for the ages. Little Debbie should be scared. There is no way in hell that little girl could create something so perfect. If she ate one of these her head would explode.
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Ingredients for Vegan Pumpkin Bars
- All-Purpose Flour (1 cup): All-purpose flour is a staple in baking recipes and serves as the base for the pumpkin bars. It provides structure and stability to the bars, helping them hold their shape.
- Sugar (1/2 cup): Sugar adds sweetness to the pumpkin bars, enhancing their flavor and balancing the natural earthiness of pumpkin. It also contributes to the texture and moisture of the bars.
- Brown Sugar (1/4 cup): Brown sugar contains molasses, which adds moisture and a subtle caramel-like flavor to the bars. It also helps create a soft and chewy texture.
- Baking Powder (1/2 teaspoon): Baking powder is a leavening agent that helps the bars rise and become light and fluffy.
- Baking Soda (1/4 teaspoon): Baking soda is another leavening agent that helps the bars rise. It also aids in the browning process, giving the bars a desirable golden color.
- Sea Salt (1/2 teaspoon): Sea salt enhances the overall flavor of the bars and balances the sweetness. It adds a hint of savory depth to the recipe.
- Cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon), Ginger (1/2 teaspoon), Nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon), Cloves (1/4 teaspoon): These spices provide the warm, aromatic flavors commonly associated with pumpkin desserts. They contribute to the distinct and comforting taste of the pumpkin bars.
- Pumpkin Puree (1/2 cup): Pumpkin puree is the star ingredient in this recipe, providing the signature pumpkin flavor and moistness to the bars. It also contributes to the texture and helps bind the other ingredients together.
- Full-fat Coconut Milk (1/2 cup): Coconut milk adds richness and creaminess to the pumpkin bars, ensuring a moist and tender texture. It also enhances the flavor profile and complements the pumpkin.
- Canola Oil (1/4 cup): Canola oil provides moisture and tenderness to the bars. It helps prevent them from drying out and adds richness to the overall texture.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (1 1/2 teaspoons): Apple cider vinegar acts as an acid in the recipe, reacting with the leavening agents (baking powder and baking soda) to create carbon dioxide gas. This helps the bars rise and results in a lighter and more tender texture.
- Vanilla Extract (1 teaspoon): Vanilla extract enhances the overall flavor of the bars, adding a pleasant aroma and depth to the recipe. It complements the other ingredients and balances the flavors.
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
- Vegan Cream Cheese (8 oz): Vegan cream cheese serves as the base of the frosting and provides a creamy and tangy flavor similar to traditional cream cheese. It adds richness and a smooth texture to the frosting.
- Vegan Butter, softened (1/4 cup): Vegan butter adds a creamy and rich texture to the frosting. It helps create a smooth consistency and contributes to the overall flavor profile. Softened vegan butter is easier to incorporate into the frosting, ensuring a homogeneous mixture.
- Powdered Sugar, sifted (2 cups): Powdered sugar, also known as confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar, sweetens the frosting and helps achieve the desired sweetness. Sifting the powdered sugar removes any lumps and ensures a smooth and lump-free frosting.
- Vanilla Extract (1 teaspoon): Vanilla extract enhances the flavor of the frosting, adding a pleasant aroma and depth. It complements the other ingredients and balances the sweetness.
Steps for Making Vegan Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Prepare the Batter: Start by making the batter. Mix together the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until just-combined. Do not over-mix.
- Bake: Pour batter into an 8-inch square pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Place on center rack of preheated oven (350 F) and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the bars comes out clean with only a few crumbs clinging to it.
- Prepare the Frosting: While the baked pumpkin bars cool, prepare the frosting. Beat together the vegan cream cheese and the vegan butter with an electric hand mixer until the mixture is completely smooth and lump-free. Sift in the powdered sugar and drizzle in the vanilla. Beat until frosting comes together.
- Assemble: Once the pumpkin bars are completely cool, spread the cream cheese frosting over the top of them using an offset spatula. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
Tips for Making Vegan Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Choose a high-quality vegan cream cheese: Look for a high-quality vegan cream cheese that has a smooth and creamy texture. There are several brands available that offer delicious vegan cream cheese alternatives made from plant-based ingredients.
- Sift the powdered sugar: Sifting the powdered sugar before adding it to the frosting will ensure that there are no lumps and help create a silky smooth texture. This step is particularly important for achieving a creamy and lump-free cream cheese frosting.
- Use pure vanilla extract: Opt for pure vanilla extract to add a rich and authentic vanilla flavor to the frosting. Avoid using artificial vanilla flavoring, as it may not provide the same depth of taste.
- Cool the pumpkin bars completely: Allow the pumpkin bars to cool completely before spreading the cream cheese frosting. If the bars are still warm, the frosting may melt and become too soft.
- Frost the bars just before serving: For the best presentation and texture, frost the pumpkin bars just before serving. This will ensure that the frosting is fresh and beautifully spread on the bars.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to create delicious vegan pumpkin bars with a creamy and luscious cream cheese frosting that will impress both vegans and non-vegans alike!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make the cream cheese frosting in advance?
Yes, you can make the cream cheese frosting in advance. Prepare the frosting as directed and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let it come to room temperature before spreading it on the cooled pumpkin bars.
Can I freeze the frosted pumpkin bars?
It’s generally not recommended to freeze frosted pumpkin bars. The texture and consistency of the cream cheese frosting may change upon thawing, resulting in a less desirable texture. It’s best to freeze the unfrosted pumpkin bars and add the cream cheese frosting after thawing.
Can I use a different type of frosting for the pumpkin bars?
Absolutely! While cream cheese frosting is a classic choice for pumpkin bars, you can experiment with different frostings to suit your preferences. Vegan buttercream, maple glaze, or a dusting of powdered sugar are a few alternative options that can complement the flavors of the pumpkin bars.
Can I use homemade pumpkin puree in the recipe?
Yes, you can use homemade pumpkin puree in the recipe. Ensure that the homemade puree has a similar consistency to canned pumpkin puree. If it’s more watery, you may need to strain it before using to achieve the desired texture in the pumpkin bars.
Can I make the pumpkin bars gluten-free?
Yes, you can make gluten-free pumpkin bars by using a gluten-free flour blend instead of all-purpose flour. Look for a gluten-free flour blend specifically formulated for baking, or experiment with a combination of gluten-free flours like rice flour, almond flour, or tapioca flour. You may need to adjust the quantities or add a binder like xanthan gum to help with the texture.
How to Serve/Store Vegan Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
When serving vegan pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting, you can elevate the presentation and enhance the flavors by considering the following suggestions:
- Cut into squares or bars: Start by cutting the pumpkin bars into individual squares or rectangular bars of your desired size. A sharp knife or bench scraper can also help achieve clean edges.
- Place on a serving platter or plate: Arrange the cut pumpkin bars on a serving platter or individual dessert plates. Make sure there is enough space between each piece for easy serving.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon: For a finishing touch, dust a light sprinkle of ground cinnamon over the cream cheese frosting. This adds a touch of warmth and complements the flavors of the pumpkin bars.
- Serve with a side of whipped cream: If desired, provide a small bowl of vegan whipped cream on the side. Guests can add a dollop of whipped cream to their individual servings, creating a delightful combination of flavors.
- Add a sprinkle of crushed nuts: Consider adding a sprinkle of crushed nuts, such as pecans or walnuts, on top of the cream cheese frosting. This adds a pleasant crunch and a contrasting texture to the soft pumpkin bars.
Due to the cream cheese frosting, it’s best to store the pumpkin bars in the refrigerator. The cool temperature significantly helps to preserve the frosting’s texture and prevents it from becoming too soft. Place the pumpkin bars in an airtight container or cover them tightly with plastic wrap. This prevents any odors from the refrigerator from being absorbed and helps maintain the moisture of the bars.
Vegan pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are best consumed within 3-4 days. After this period, the texture and flavor may begin to deteriorate. If you anticipate longer storage, it’s recommended to store the frosting and bars separately and assemble them just before serving.
Before serving the stored pumpkin bars, allow them to sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes to take off the chill. This helps restore the flavors and allows the bars to soften slightly.
Please remember if you make this recipe to snap a pic and share with @censoredbaker on instagram!Print
Vegan Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Moist, spicy pumpkin cake topped with tangy cream cheese frosting. The perfect snack cake for winter and fall. Watch out Little Debbie!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 9 2-inch bars 1x
- Category: Brownies and Bars
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
For the Bars
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c full-fat coconut milk
1/4 c canola oil
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Frosting
8 oz vegan cream cheese
1/4 c vegan butter, softened
2 c powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Mix the Dry Ingredients: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C) and line a 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Prepare the Batter: In a measuring cup, whisk together pumpkin puree, coconut milk, canola oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and whisk until smooth. Do not over-mix. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.
- Bake: Place pan on center rack of oven and bake for 24-26 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of bars comes out clean.
- Prepare the Frosting: While the pumpkin bars are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, beat together the vegan cream cheese and vegan butter with a stand or hand mixer. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat until smooth. Frosting should have a soft, runny consistency. Place in the refrigerator to firm up a little while the bars cool.
- Assemble: Once the pumpkin bars are completely cool, spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
*Pumpkin bars can keep covered for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen unfrosted for up to a month.
Keywords: vegan pumpkin, pumpkin dessert, vegan cream cheese frosting, vegan dessert, fall dessert, thanksgiving dessert