Creamy and Crunchy Pumpkin Bars

Creamy and Crunchy Pumpkin Bars
Adapted from Wiliams-Sonoma
Yield 16 bars

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 package (1 lb. 2 oz.) Williams Sonoma spiced pecan pumpkin quick bread mix* 

1 large egg 
8 Tbs. (1 stick/4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted 

For the filling: 
1 package (8 oz.) 1/3 less fat cream cheese, at room temperature 

1 jar (13.5 oz.) Muirhead pecan pumpkin butter*
3 large eggs 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
8 Tbs. (1 stick/4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted 
1/2 cup powdered sugar 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

To make the crust, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the quick bread mix, egg and melted butter and beat on low speed until the ingredients come together, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread out evenly. Press the crust down with the back of a spatula or spoon until it feels compact.

Wash and dry the mixer bowl and beater.

To make the filling, in the mixer bowl, combine the cream cheese and pumpkin butter and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, vanilla, melted butter and spices and beat until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat well, about 2 minutes.

Spread the filling over the crust. Transfer to the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Do not overbake; the center should still be a little gooey. To test for doneness, gently shake the pan; you should see a slight jiggle in the center. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes, then cut into bars with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar if serving immediately (otherwise the sugar will disappear) or serve with a dollop of whipped cream.  Refrigerate leftovers to ensure food safety.

*See blog notes for alternative products.

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