On Friday night, we had some girls over for dinner and dessert. We had a lovely time, but afterwards we were all super exhausted. My suitemates and I have been pretty antisocial this year, so it’s quite a lot of excitment when someone other than the boyfriend comes over to visit us. We’re all fairly quiet people, so we get easily overwhelmed by large group settings and too much socializing can be really draining. We’re like old grandmas in 20-something year old bodies :)
After class on Friday afternoon, Ahra and I ran to the grocery store, so we would have something other than our usual rabbit food to feed our guests. When we got home, all four us started frantically preparing dinner in our tiny kitchen, spilling and splashing, and bumping into each other every two seconds. It was rather chaotic, and our kitchen was a giant mess of oil splatters, potato peelings, and dirty dishes by the time our guests arrived.
Naturally, I was in charge of dessert, so I decided to make two kinds. The more the better, right? :) Originally, I wanted to make some sort of pie and a cake, but I quickly scratched that idea. Pie and cake need to be eaten on plates with forks, and when you have a lot of people, that equals a mountain of extra dishes. No thank you. So I chose to make two desserts that can easily be eaten with your hands, maple-pecan pie squares (which I will post a recipe for shortly!) and pumpkin cream cheese swirl bars.
The pumpkin cream cheese swirl bars were outstanding! Although this dessert is cut into bars, it tasted like cake, which was perfect because that was what I was going for in the first place. The bars were spongy and moist, and the spicy pumpkin layer and the tangy cream cheese swirl went together perfectly. The girls LOVED these bars and the entire pan was gone in a matter of minutes. Luckily, I saved one before serving them, so the boyfriend was able to try one too :)
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars
Source: adapted from Cookie Madness, originally from Sunset
For the pumpkin batter:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the cream cheese swirl:
- 1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 15×10 inch pan with foil; grease foil.
2. To make the pumpkin batter, stir together melted butter and sugar in a large bowl. With a whisk, beat in eggs, pumpkin puree, and water until well blended and smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Spread all but a few tablespoons of batter evenly in prepared pan.
4. In bowl of food processor (or stand mixer), beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add egg and beat until combined. Drop tablespoons of cream cheese mixture over pumpkin batter, then drag a knife through to create swirls. Drop reserved tablespoons of pumpkin batter on top.
5. Bake in preheated oven until pumpkin batter springs back when lightly pressed, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan, then refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into bars.