Friday night, my lab hosted a work party at Pegasus Pizza and I took it as an opportunity to try out a potential cookie exchange contender on a whole bunch of people. These pumpkin cream cheese swirl bars from Cookie Madness have been waiting to be tested for some time, so they were the chosen ones! And I must say, they were quite good. You might be wondering if bars are acceptable for a cookie exchange… well they are! Because I said so.

These were light and fluffy and had my favorite flavor combination: cream cheese and pumpkin. Baking the cream cheese with the pumpkin part made it taste much more like a pumpkin cheese cake, which was awesome.

Begin by combining the melted butter and sugar.

Beat in the pumpkin, eggs, water, and vanilla. Let your boyfriend do this if he asks nicely and you measure everything for him.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Or if you don’t have nutmeg because you’ve used it all baking so many fall concoctions, some pumpkin pie seasoning.

Gradually add this mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Stir until combined. Spread evenly into a greased 9×13 inch pan.

Now, combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg and beat until smooth. Drop spoonfuls on to the batter, and swirl by dragging a butter knife through the mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are golden.

Yum. The baked cream cheese mixture really makes it taste like cheesecake. Really delicious for you big pumpkin fans. I didn’t take any pictures of individual bars because I was too busy packing them to take them to my work function. Sorry! You can imagine what they look liked 🙂

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars
Adapted from Cookie Madness

6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (288 grams)
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin (240 grams)
1/3 cup water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (220 grams)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar (48 grams)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with non-stick foil or just spray with cooking spray. Mix together the butter and sugar. With a whisk or Kitchenaid, beat in eggs, pumpkin, and water until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg together; stir into batter. Spread the batter into a 9×13 inch pan. In a second bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add egg and beat just until it’s mixed in. Drop tablespoons of cheese mixture over pumpkin batter, then drag a knife through to make marbles. Bake on center rack until pumpkin batter springs back when touched, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, then chill for an hour or more. Cut into 24 bars.