Pumpkin Squares Win!

What do you get when you smash a pumpkin? Oh come on now... you have to at least try to solve it. Here's a hint: it's a food family.

Pumpkin is without a doubt one of my favorite nom nommables. I love the smoothness and subtlety. It's  hard to explain the flavor, but it's the perfect canvas for cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg- spices that I love. Even the color appeals to the senses! That rustic orange defines the fall season.. I could see it all around us during a recent trip to Wintergreen Mountains.

These Pumpkin Bars are old school! I have no idea where they come from- they were scribed in a recipe book my mom got me as a surprise on August 12, 2003. It's scribbled down in my hand writing with very little direction. Thank you mom for the book and patience. I burnt a LOT of pancakes as a kid trying to surprise my family with breakfast.

Even in 2003, these squares were an instant win! I remember my sister's now husband asking me to make a batch for a family dinner. We never ate a lot of pumpkin- just the standard issue store bought pumpkin pie at thanksgiving. Pie pie pie. I think this cake opened a new door to my conception of pumpkin. 

The trademark of these squares is the ludicrously moist texture. They're so damn fluffy! And simple. This isn't some gourmet fancy dish. It's comforting pumpkin goodness. The flavor isn't like spice cake... it's more of a fluffy pumpkin pie. You be the judge! 

I have experimented with swapping out different kinds of sugars (brown sugar, cane sugar, turbirando, etc) and flour (half whole wheat). Honestly- it made no major difference to the flavor, just the color. So go ahead and experiment- it comes out delicious either way!

You can use cream cheese frosting if you so desire. I modified the original version with some cinnamon mixed in and a dash of maple syrup.

Man... now I am tempted to try these as cupcakes!

Pumpkin Squares

1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil or unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
 Handful of hazelnuts (optional)

Set oven to 350 and grease a 8x8 baking pan.

With an electric mixer, blend sugar and eggs for about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and oil and beat on a low speed for another minute.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix for another minute, until combined.

Pour into baking pan and sprinkle hazelnuts on top (optional). Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese
1-2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or maple syrup
Cinnamon to taste (optional)

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add butter. Gradually add sugar until well incorporated. Add vanilla or maple syrup. Cinnamon can be added to taste.