Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Bars

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?

Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Bars

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

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 with Chocolate Chips

Either way, delicious.

Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Bars

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

Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Bars

Yield: 9 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

These pumpkin cranberry chocolate chip bars with cream cheese frosting are a festive fall dessert that are also pretty healthy.


For the Bars

  • 3/4 cup all purpose 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

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

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


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9X9 or similar sized pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt butter and beat with sugar.
  3. Add applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla, egg and pumpkin and beat until combined.
  4. In a large bowl combine flours, salt, baking soda and spices and mix well.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until well combined.
  6. Fold in cranberries and chocolate chips.
  7. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  8. 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.
  9. Add in sugar to taste (I prefer my frosting almost tart so adjust to your taste) and beat until combined.
  10. Once bars are done, let cool in pan.
  11. Cut into 9 squares, carefully remove and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
  12. Frost once completely cooled if desired.


Please leave a comment & rating below or share a photo on Instagram and tag @runningtothekitchen


filed in: Dessert


  1. Amanda

    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. :)

  2. barbara

    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.

  3. kari @ Running Ricig

    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 :)

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      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? ;)

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      Haha. Will you pay my mortgage while I’m off in Paris taking the course because I’d LOVE to, believe me! ;)

  4. Jen @ Light Enough to Travel

    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! :)

  5. STUFT Mama

    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.

  6. Nicole, RD

    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!

  7. Pingback: Baked apple oatmeal

  8. Marlina

    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!


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