Pumpkin Bars… If You Can Find The Pumpkins!!

IMG_2160Further to my last post on Canadian Thanksgiving, I thought I would write a quick one on pumpkin bars and the fact that making them (and anything else requiring pumpkin puree) this year might pose a challenge!!

You see, canned pumpkins, the main ingredient in the bars, are made from ‘pie’ or ‘sugar’ pumpkins.  Pie pumpkins are the smaller, denser, darker version of the larger, thin-walled pumpkins we use for carving jack-o-lanterns at Halloween. These pie pumpkins are made into puree and canned in the fall and are available all year – technically.

This fall, pie pumpkins are in short supply due to the heavy rains this summer in the Midwestern United States where most of the pies are grown. The problem is serious enough to cause some concern for Americans as they plan their upcoming Thanksgiving dinner menu which undoubtedly will include some variation of pumpkin in several dishes.

According to Bloomberg News, Libby’s, the largest producer of pumpkins, says they have enough product to make 45 million 8 inch pies, which is half of what they normally produce. They think this is enough to get through Thanksgiving but, after that, there could be a shortage that will have to wait until next year’s harvest to be satisfied.

A story on The Weather Network recently talked about how Canadian farmers have shipped pie pumpkins to the US to help with the shortage as the rains were not as bad in Canada.  Until the end of the Canadian harvest (the US harvest ended earlier this month), we cannot know if Canada will have an issue as weather could affect this year’s crop which has been described as average.

I was first introduced to pumpkin bars in university when I went home with my roommate, whose mother served us delicious ones.  Basically, they taste like carrot cake with a more pumpkin-y, spicy taste — and they look like a snacking cake at about 1 1/2 inches high.  Cream cheese frosting tops these yummy bars.

This year, I made some bars and I followed the recipe below from all recipes.com.  If you are interested in trying these, get the pumpkin puree now, just in case it runs out as the year progresses!

Here are some tips:

  • Use candy corn or green and orange sprinkles to make the bars more festive
  • Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and grease it to make it easy to take out the bars
  • Use a 9 by 13 inch pan plus an 8 or 9 inch square pan if you don’t have a 12 by 18 inch jelly roll pan
  • Make only half of the cream cheese frosting recipe – a full one is too much

Pumpkin Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting (all recipes.com) 
Pumpkin Bar Ingredients:
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
2 cups All-Purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 pinch ground cinnamon for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a large jelly roll pan with cooking spray. (Note: Use a 12 by 18 inch sheet pan OR a 9 by 13 inch pan plus an 8 inch square pan)
  2. Beat eggs in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer until foamy; add white sugar, vegetable oil, and pumpkin. Beat on medium speed until incorporated, 2 minutes.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Beat flour mixture into egg mixture on low speed until just combined, 1 minute. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool completely.
  5. Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a bowl with an electric hand mixer until creamy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar; beat until smooth. Spread frosting evenly over cooled pumpkin cake; sprinkle with cinnamon.


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2 thoughts on “Pumpkin Bars… If You Can Find The Pumpkins!!

  1. I better run out and stock up on some pumpkin puree for the upcoming US Thanksgiving. Thanks for the heads up.
    I’m pretty sure Paul would divorce me if Pumpkin pie was not served. Yikes

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