Double the holiday fun with these spiced pumpkin gingerbread bars! Soft and cakey with a slight chew, these bars feature two distinct layers: pumpkin and gingerbread, which get drizzled with an irresistible cream cheese icing. While the bars look impressive, the recipe is very easy to put together with a minimal number of bowls and no electric mixer.
Position a rack one level below the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with foil, leaving an overhang of 2 inches on all sides and spray the foil.
For the gingerbread layer: Whisk the brown sugar, molasses, butter, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and egg yolk in a large bowl until well combined. Whisk in the baking soda. Stir in the flour with a rubber spatula until combined with no floury bits. Scatter in clumps all over the bottom of the prepared baking pan; spread the dough and press down evenly all the way to the edges, then set aside.
For the pumpkin layer: Whisk the granulated sugar, pumpkin puree, butter, cinnamon vanilla, salt and egg in another large bowl until well combined. Whisk in the baking powder. Stir in the flour with a rubber spatula until just combined with no floury bits. Dollop the dough on top of the gingerbread layer and spread evenly to the edges with the rubber spatula or small offset spatula. Smooth the top.
Bake until the top is matte, slightly puffed and very firm to the touch in the center, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in the pan, about 2 hours.
For the cream cheese icing: Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl; whisk together until smooth and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla; whisk until completely smooth. Transfer to a small piping bag or resealable plastic bag.
Remove the bar cookie to a cutting board, then peel off the foil. If desired, trim the edges. Snip the tip of the piping bag and drizzle the icing on top. Cut into bars.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
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