These pumpkin cranberry chocolate chip bars with cream cheese frosting are a festive fall dessert that are also pretty healthy.
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.
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.
Either way, delicious.
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!”
- ¾ cup AP flour
- ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ½ cup fresh cranberries (I used frozen, thawed)
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- 4 tablespoons cream cheese
- ½ tablespoon butter
- ½ 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.