Fudgy Pumpkin Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

First I made these bars using lemons, then bananas, now pumpkin. Why not.

Everything is better after it’s been pumpkin-ified.

Fudgy Pumpkin Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - Bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

Fudgy is the only word that describes the bars. They’re like biting into a piece of super soft pumpkin fudge that’s crossed with the pumpkin equivalent of moist, fudgy brownies.

They’re rich, soft, supremely moist, and tooth-sinkingly dense and satisfying. If you’re looking for a fluffy slice of pumpkin cake, they’re not that.

Fudgy Pumpkin Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - Bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

They’re closer in texture to Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars, minus the chocolate chips, yet have an even fudgier texture. Funny how that works.

The bars are packed with rich pumpkin flavor and the glaze makes the bars go from really good to life-changing. Lately I’ve been topping everything I can with the glaze because it’s just that good.

Fudgy Pumpkin Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - Bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

The secrets are browned butter and glorious vanilla bean seeds. They’re such powerfully flavored ingredients, and flavor just explodes from the glaze.

If you’ve never browned butter, read this tutorial. The 5 minutes it takes to do is the best 5 minutes you’ll spend all month. I used vanilla bean paste but scraping the seeds of a vanilla bean works. Vanilla extract is okay, but won’t be as flavorfully intense as paste or seeds.

Fudgy Pumpkin Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - Bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

After pouring the glaze over the warm bars, it seeps down and soaks in, and makes the bars even moister, softer, and fudgier. As a bonus, they taste even better on the second and third day, if they last that long.

Between the warming spices of pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon, coupled with the glaze, I was in fall comfort food heaven. I loved the bars, hoarded them, and was sad to see the last one go.

Fudgy Pumpkin Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze - Bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

If you haven’t already pre-ordered it, Cooking With Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie is my second cookbook and the official release date is October 6.

There’s over 50 pumpkin recipes including sweets, savory, drinks, and a photo for nearly every recipe. I’d be super grateful if you headed over to Amazon.

Cooking With Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie by Averie Sunshine

Print Recipe

Fudgy Pumpkin Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

Fudgy is the only word that describes the bars. They’re like biting into a piece of super soft pumpkin fudge that's crossed with the pumpkin equivalent of moist, fudgy brownies. They’re rich, soft, supremely moist, and tooth-sinkingly dense and satisfying. If you’re looking for a fluffy slice of pumpkin cake, they’re not that. They're packed with rich pumpkin flavor and the glaze makes the bars go from really good to life-changing. The glaze seeps down and soaks in, and makes the bars even moister, softer, and fudgier. Between the warming spices and the glaze, you'll be in fall comfort food heaven.

Yield: one 8x8 pan, 9 to 12 generous squares

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: about 30 minutes

Total Time: about 3 hours, for cooling & glaze setting up

Ingredients:

Bars
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
pinch salt, optional and to taste

Glaze
1/4 cup unsalted butter, browned (how to brown butter tutorial)
1 heaping cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds from 1 large vanilla bean; 1 tablespoon vanilla extract may be substituted)
pinch salt, optional and to taste
about 1/4 cup cream or milk, or as necessary for consistency

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Bars -  In a large, microwave-safe bowl add the white chocolate, butter, and heat to melt, about 2 minutes on high power. Stop to check and stir after 1 minute, and then heat in 20-second bursts, stopping to stir after each burst, until mixture can be stirred smooth. White chocolate is very prone to scorching and seizing up, so watch it carefully and don't overheat.
  3. Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don't scramble it. Add the egg, sugar, vanilla, and whisk until combined.
  4. Add the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the flour, optional salt, and stir until just combined; don't overmix.
  6. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. In the last 10 minutes of baking, make the glaze.
  8. Glaze - Brown the butter (click for tutorial). Cook butter over medium-high heat in a small saucepan until it's amber to brown in color, about 5 minutes depending on pan size, but watch it closely so you don't burn it. I swirl the pan in the last minute or so to make sure I can really see the color changes. Butter will go through stages of hissing, sputtering, and making noise until the water cooks off at which point the browning occurs. Butter will smell nutty and aromatic.
  9. Transfer butter, including brown bits at the bottom of the pan (they're flavor powerhouses, keep them) from pan to large mixing bowl which stops any carryover cooking.
  10. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla bean paste, optional salt, and slowly add the milk, whisking until smooth or beat with a handheld electric mixer. As necessary, add additional cream (or confectioners' sugar) to reach desired glaze consistency. Glaze should be of medium thickness and easily pourable.
  11. Evenly pour glaze over bars (they don't have to be cooled first), smoothing it lightly with a spatula if necessary, but glaze will likely just slide into place.
  12. Allow bars to cool in pan uncovered for at least 2 to 3 hours, (or overnight and cover with a sheet of foil) before slicing and serving so glaze can set up. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Adapted from Fudgy Banana Bread Bars and Lemon Lemonies

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103 comments

  1. Since I found your site yesterday and printed out the lemon bar recipe, then came across the punkin bar recipe today, I have officially declared your website lethal to my waist line!

    Luckily, my baking challenge this year (1000 cookies in memory of my late mother and my cat) will see 99.8% of all baked goods leaving our home *whew*!

    However, being a fiend for lemon and pumpkin, I cannot wait to make these and incorporate them into this years Holiday baking extravaganza.

    Must check out your cookbook too and of course pin this :)

    • Thanks for pinning, finding me, wanting to get my book, and for wanting to make so many of my recipes!

      I totally understand about making things and then making sure that 99% leaves the house! I would say 70% leaves our house just because we don’t need 5 cakes/5pans of bars/5 batches of cookies etc on any given week :)

      LMK what you make & how it goes!

  2. Hello! I am in the process of making the pumpkin fudgy bars and I just have a quick question. I see that you wrote to leave these out overnight, but since there is milk in the glaze does this create a problem? Please let me know, thank you!

    • I personally don’t have an issue storing glazed items at room temp (think of all the glazed donuts that sit out!!…for days in some places!) but if you do, you can put them in the fridge. They will dry out more and lose softness, but do what you prefer.

  3. Thanks for the recipe! I reviewed it on my blog. Check it out here: http://www.anneopinion.com/2014/10/fudgy-pumpkin-bars.html
    Thanks!

  4. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made them today as a test for one of my Thanksgiving desserts. They are ahhmazing! That glaze is to die for. The vanilla bean paste was worth every penny. I cannot wait to make the other versions as well. I’m not sure i want to share them.

    • Thanks for trying the recipe, Maryann, and glad the glaze is to die for and that you felt the paste was worth it$$. I totally agree and so glad you’re happy and that you can check one Thanksgiving dessert off your list now :)

  5. I love these bars! My daughter made the recipe for Thanksgiving and I love that they are so moist and dense. Taste fabulous, too. My guy does not so much like pumpkin or pumpkin pie, so when I made these today I made a couple substitutions. I used sweet potato instead of pumpkin, and I used cardamom instead of pumpkin pie spice. Different flavor but still had the wonderful texture that I love so much. I’ll definitely be getting your cookbook soon. I am positive I will be liking your recipes!

  6. what if the pumpkin is replaced with potatoes?
    thankyou for recipe

  7. I used vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean (on-hand, and cheaper!) so my glaze came out brown instead of white, which is okay with me! My concern is that the glaze was pretty thin/runny, so if I let these set to cool, will the glaze thicken up?  I don’t want it to stay sticky! 

    • The extract (liquid) probably thinned out the glaze. You could have added more powdered sugar to thicken it up. It will harden/set-up in time but not necessarily as thick or stiff as you want, hard to say. Just a touch more powdered sugar would do the trick until it’s comfortably thick enough, for your tastes.

  8. The glaze on these is too sickly sweet for me with the whole cup of confectioners sugar. The bars themselves were all right and easy to make but I probably would not make again, especially not without changing the glaze. I’ll probably just throw them away. 

  9. Is it possible to use pumpkin pie filling instead of pumpkin puree? 

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