Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Acorn squash (or pumpkin) cake bars with cream cheese frosting

A fall spice flavored cake-like bar topped with everyone's favorite cream cheese frosting. Mine uses acorn squash but you can substitute with pumpkin or even butternut squash!

I made a bunch of acorn squash puree to bake some quick bread. Since I didn't use up all the puree, I had some leftover and wasn't quite sure what to bake. I wanted to make something that would feed a crowd (namely the parents of Addie's gymnastics classmates) and give everyone plenty of slices to taste.

I found a recipe for pumpkin bars and made multiple tweaks to fit my tastes. I swapped out the pumpkin puree for acorn squash since that is what I had. I also replaced the oil for applesauce and reduced the sugar (and substituted some of it with brown sugar). I also subbed the cinnamon for pumpkin pie spice.

Not going to lie to you here. These bars turned out more like cake, but I am definitely not complaining. It was soft and fluffy like a cake, and the frosting made it even more cake-like. If you are looking for a sturdy bar with a shortbread-like crust, this is not it.

I told our friends that this was a pumpkin cake. Nobody knew the difference and it was a hit with everyone who tried it. Even Addie gobbled hers down very quickly and didn't leave a crumb on her plate. Looks like another winning recipe.

Acorn squash bars with cream cheese frosting
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup acorn squash puree (can substitute with pumpkin puree)
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 recipe cream cheese frosting (I had leftover frosting in the refrigerator from this cake)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9"x13" baking pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld  mixer, mix together the eggs, sugars, applesauce and squash/pumpkin puree on medium speed until the mixture is uniform.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix until everything is well incorporated.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Frost the top of the bars with the cream cheese frosting once the bars have cooled completely.

Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep for about a week.

Yield: One 9"x13" pan; at least 18-24 servings or more depending on how big you cut the slices

Source: Adapted from Paula Deen, via the Food Network

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