Friday, November 15, 2013

Gooey Pumpkin Bars

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. Does this make you feel:

a.) Excited. I love Thanksgiving! I've had my menu planned since July, ordered a heritage bird from the market, and created shopping lists based on the ad flyers from four different stores.
b.) Uncertain. Seriously? Thanksgiving? I'm still recovering from Halloween. I guess I'd better call my mom to make sure she's willing to host again this year.
c.) Terrified. I am not ready for this. I am not ready for this. I am not ready for this...

No matter how you answered, I've got a recipe that will have you shaking your tailfeather at the thought of Thanksgiving. Gooey Pumpkin Bars are delicious, indulgent, and the perfect alternative to pumpkin pie.

Eschew your rolling pin and pull together a tender crust using--get this--cake mix. (I won't tell your mother-in-law.) The rich pumpkin filling is extra creamy from the addition of cream cheese. And perhaps the best part? You only dirty one bowl.  

Thanksgiving? We've got this in the bag.

Gooey Pumpkin Bars
Adapted from The Lady & Sons

1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon*
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger*
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
Pinch ground cloves*
2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
Pecans and whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13" x 9" baking dish.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, 1 egg, and 1 stick butter. Mix until well combined. Press into the bottom of prepared baking dish and set aside.

In the same mixing bowl (don't bother washing it), beat cream cheese until smooth and a bit fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Beat in remaining 3 eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and spices on medium low until everything is well combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the cream cheese is incorporated and mix for another few seconds. Add in powdered sugar and beat until it's incorporated. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in remaining 1 stick melted butter and mix well.

Pour filling on top of unbaked crust and spread it out evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the center is just a tiny bit gooey and wiggly. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into squares. If desired, garnish with pecans and whipped cream.

*Feel free to substitute 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice for the spices listed here.

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