Pumpkin cranberry chocolate chip bars

pumpkin cranberry bars 3 v2

See that plate? That’s part of my china set. The china set that now sits in the pretty china cabinet we bought when we were first married. I know many people don’t even register for china anymore these days but I wanted it because 1. It’s pretty 2. I like to cook and feed people. So we have china, silver, a china cabinet and a lovely Ethan Allen dining room table (found for a steal at the clearance center!) and yet I’m not hosting any holidays this year. Want to know why?

Because there is a couch in my dining room smooshed between the table and the window. A couch that looked and fit great in our house in Florida that my mother in law so nicely gave to us, but a couch that does not fit in our current house. It was hanging out in the formal living room that we weren’t using but now that I’m using that space for my office/photography area, the couch had to go. Except, there was no where to put it. To the dining room it went thinking Ulysses would take it to his parents house soon. 6 months later it’s still there. I’m pretty sure his secret plan is to keep it there just through the holidays so we can’t have anyone over and therefore no hand washing of the china on his part. Clever, but I see right through it.

Between the couch smooshed up against one front window and my makeshift foam board/photography table in the other, I’m pretty sure the mailman, UPS and FedEx delivery people all think I live in a crack den. Add my psychotic dog who channels her inner aggressive, Michael Vick trained pit bull when the doorbell rings and yep, definitely crack den.

What does this have to do with pumpkin cranberry bars?

Nothing, except that I decided to plate them on my china so I can at least say I used it once this year and my holidays weren’t ruined by a couch and a stubborn husband.

pumpkin cranberry bars 1 v2

So let’s talk about these bars. They’re sweet, tart, chocolaty and spicy all at once. How that’s even possible, I don’t know. Without the cream cheese frosting, they’re perfect for a lighter dessert with tea. Think spice cake. With the cream cheese frosting, they’re an all out sweet.

pumpkin cranberry bars 2 v2

Either way, delicious.

pumpkin cranberry bars 4 v2

I thought about withholding them from husbands who don’t cooperate with furniture removal, but if I’ve learned anything in the past 5 years, it’s that sweet beats out sour when you want something. Even if you really just want to scream “Get the f*(&^%# couch out of the dining room!”


Pumpkin Cranberry

Chocolate Chip Bars

Yield: 9 bars

  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (I used frozen, thawed)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9X9 or similar sized pan. In a medium bowl, melt butter and beat with sugar. Add applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla, egg and pumpkin and beat until combined. In a large bowl combine flours, salt, baking soda and spices and mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until well combined. Fold in cranberries and chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. While bars are baking prepare the cream cheese frosting by combining cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a small bowl and beating with a hand held beater. Add in sugar to taste (I prefer my frosting almost tart so adjust to your taste) and beat until combined. Once bars are done, let cool in pan. Cut into 9 squares, carefully remove and let cool completely on a cooling rack. Frost once completely cooled if desired.


I’m really excited to say that the Running to the Kitchen is featured in Women’s Health Magazine. You can see the persimmon pancakes in the magazine here!

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  1. 1

    All your recipes look so amazing! Cranberry and chocolate AND pumpkin?! Perfect combo!

  2. 2

    Sweet beats sour for sure. I hear ya on that.

    The recipe looks great.

  3. 3

    I was in a similar situation a couple of years ago with regard to my husband’s old futon taking up residence in our foyer. It took him forever to get around to listing it on Craigslist (I eventually listed it myself and priced it super cheap to get rid of it fast), and every day, I would open my front door to a bright blue futon. Awful!

    These bars look delicious. I have a couple of bags of cranberries in my fridge (random impulse buy at TJ’s) and may just have to forego cranberry sauce in favor of your recipe. :)

  4. 4

    Congrats on your feature in womens health! I think these bars definitely look “china” worthy. I hope you don’t come home to find your husband has moved te tv into the dining room to join the couch

  5. 5

    GAH! Everyone is making all of these incredible cranberry dishes! I need to get on board!

  6. 6

    Haha again with the pumpkin? ;)

  7. 8

    Enjoyed one last nite with a cold glass of milk. Just finished 2 miles on dreadmill so I can enjoy another one guilt free, tonite after work.

  8. 9

    3 things:

    1. I want some of those when I see you tomorrow in Atlanta.
    2. We are having a Christmas party and you should come.
    3. We need a new couch. Tell me about yours :)

    • 10
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      1. They might already be all gone? Ooops
      2. Yay, tell me when :)
      3. it’s a small sectional w/ a rounded end (kinda like a chaise, but not), microsuede, offwhite/beige w/ chocolate & beige pillows and in really good condition! Did I sell you on it? ;)

  9. 11

    1 more question: do you think these count as sweets? If not, I’m making some tonight.

  10. 12

    these look fantastic!! i have a few bags of cranberries staring at me that would be perfect for this recipe :)

  11. 13

    they look a little like those cranberry bars starbucks sells at christmas! I am trying a copycat recipe. We’ll see.

  12. 14

    Girl you are on FIRE cranking out some amazing recipes!! :) That cookery course you always wanted to take, Le Cordon Bleu was it?! Do it!! You are such a natural!!

  13. 17

    These sound heavenly!! Yum! I wish I had a china set because I am throwing Thanksgiving this year!!! If only you and I were one person then everyting would be okay!

  14. 18

    Congrats on the Women’s Health listing. That’s awesome!

    And these bars look so good. I’d totally use them as blackmail. They just look that delicious!

  15. 19

    Whoa you hit the big time, Gina! Nice one! You’re going to be welcoming a whole bunch of new readers, I’m sure! :D

    PS these look awesome as usual! :)

  16. 20

    We registered for china too– and I love having it! We don’t use it that often, but about once a month or so, we’ll use it for dinner. I figure, what’s the use in having it if you aren’t going to use it?

  17. 21

    Holy yum bars!!!!!!!!!!! Who cares about the couch with this around. ha! :) We have a lot of misplaced furniture around here that was supposed to be moved a year ago. LOL. Maybe these bars will help me tolerate the mess.

  18. 22

    I am loving this recipe! It looks delicious. :)

  19. 23

    Those bars look amazing! Great photos! I can’t get enough to cranberries lately..I’ve even been putting them in my oats each morning :)

    We didn’t register for china and I regretted it for years. Recently, I inherited my grannie’s, and I’m sooo happy. It’s stunning!

  20. 24

    These look faboosh! I love the pumpkin chocolate combo :) and cream cheese frosting? ya, I’ll take it slathered on anything. Can’t wait to try this one out!

  21. 25

    Those look scrumptious. I love the photos!


  1. [...] was ok. Could’ve used some more “sauce” but better than cereal I guess.I had the last one of these for some dessert later on with tea while watching Ginger spend 15 minutes trying to “fluff” her [...]

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