Pumpkin Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Pumpkin Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting

This pumpkin cake with hints of cinnamon and thick cream cheese frosting is the perfect dessert to try this fall.

By Elizabeth Czajkowski | Food Columnist
November 12, 2021
Pumpkin bars. Photo: Elizabeth Czajkowski.
Pumpkin bars. Photo: Elizabeth Czajkowski.

Nothing says fall quite like pumpkin. As the season comes into full swing, this versatile squash is making an appearance at all our favorite stores and restaurants. It’s in Culver’s salted caramel pumpkin concrete mixer, in Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte, and in the great variety of pumpkin pies, breads, cookies and soups that line the shelves of Trader Joe’s. If we’re not eating pumpkins, chances are we’re visiting pumpkin patches or carving faces into pumpkins for our doorsteps.

 

Nowadays, pumpkin is reserved as a seasonal treat, and we surely make the most of the time we have with it. However, in early American history, pumpkins were a staple meal. According to Smithsonian Magazine, squash was an important part of Native American agriculture. Native Americans used the squashes as containers; they made stews and vegetable jerky from pumpkins. 

 

In 1492, pumpkins made their way into European kitchens when Columbus returned to Europe with, among other things, pumpkin seeds. The earliest reference to pumpkins in Europe comes from an illustration in the prayer book of Anne de Bretagne, Duchess of Brittany, in the early 1500s. However, pumpkins did not really take off in Europe until the 16th century, when France and Spain started growing them en masse.

 

When colonists first arrived on the American continent, they found an abundance of pumpkins, which became a vital source of nutrition for them. The American Kitchen Magazine mentions one Plymouth poet who expressed the prevalence of pumpkins in rhyme: “We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon, / If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon.”

 

In honor of fall and the versatile pumpkin with its rich history, I would like to share one of my favorite pumpkin recipes with you: Pumpkin Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting. 


This moist, dense pumpkin cake with hints of cinnamon is perfectly complemented by a thick, sweet cream cheese frosting. Just one bite of it will bring back memories of pumpkin patches, bonfires and the beautiful colors of fall. This cake is easy to make and even easier to eat. After baking your pumpkin squares, be sure to store them in the fridge to preserve the yummy cream cheese frosting. And invite your friends and family to share because this recipe makes a lot!

Pumpkin Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

Pumpkin Squares 

  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp. salt 

 

Cream Cheese Frosting 

  • 6 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • 10 tbsp. butter (softened)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 6-8 tsp. milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a 15×10 jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil and eggs until well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, and mix well.
  4. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until set.
  5. To prepare the cream cheese frosting, combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla, powdered sugar and enough milk to achieve a spreading consistency.
  6. When the cake is fully cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool before frosting. Store in the refrigerator.
  7. Cut into squares and serve.
  8. Enjoy!
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