Who doesn’t like bacon? (I respectfully decline to acknowledge any “official” who says bacon is bad for you.) Like salt, bacon’s smokey flavor can bring out the best in sweet dishes. It’s that combination of sweet and salty that makes desserts like this one so delicious. It’s an unexpected yumminess (Is that a word? If not, it should be.) I just had to share this recipe for Pumpkin Bacon Bars with Caramel Frosting.
The bars smell heavenly of pumpkin and fall spices as they bake. And the caramel frosting, a variation of Italian buttercream, is so good that you will want to lick it off your fingers.
Pumpkin Bacon Bars with Caramel Frosting
With the Thanksgiving season definitely upon us, I couldn’t resist giving you one more wonderful pumpkin recipe. I’ve shared a fabulous pumpkin soup, an awesome pumpkin appetizer and now it’s time for a wonderful pumpkin dessert ~ just in case you don’t like pecan pie or you want another option for Thanksgiving dessert.
As a cooking instructor for 14 years, I always teach that it’s not just about the recipe: it’s about the techniques and tips that you learn. So I always include tips to enhance each recipe experience. So grab a cup of latte or if you were me, a glass of sweet iced tea, and join me for a cooking class. Let’s pretend you are sitting at my kitchen island and we’re talking about how to make Pumpkin Bacon Bars with Caramel Frosting.
The Process ~ The Cake
TIP #1: Always gather all your ingredients first. Then measure, chop, toast, dice, shred, whatever the instructions indicate. This is called mise en place; it means everything in its place in French. We do not argue with the French when it comes to kitchen organization; they invented it. Mise en place will make your cooking/baking go more smoothly and efficiently.
TIP #2: Measure all your dry ingredients together in one bowl.
TIP #3: Do not walk away from the cooktop when you are toasting nuts. They burn easily. (Don’t ask me how many times I’ve burned pine nuts and those little babies are expensive.) I use a non-stick skillet. You don’t add oil to toast nuts. They have their own. Toast until you start to smell the aroma of the nuts, then remove from the skillet.
TIP#4: Before you dice bacon, place the amount you need in the freezer for 15 ~ 30 minutes. Dicing will be so much easier. Then you can cook the bacon in a skillet until just crisp (I use my Le Creuset skillets as often as I can.). Drain on paper towels and set aside. Save the drippings; you’ll need them for the batter.
TIP #5: I always line bar or brownie recipes pans with foil. Obviously, that keeps your pan a bit cleaner, but it is so much easier to lift the bars/brownies out of the pan and you don’t lose any corners.
Combine all your wet ingredients.
After whisking the dry ingredients, add the toasted pecans. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold until combined. Pour into your prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake at 350˚F. for 22 ~ 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove baking pan to a wire rack to cool. When the cake is cool, you can easily lift it out of the pan using the extra foil. Pull the foil away from the pumpkin bars. Let the cake continue to cool while you make the caramel frosting.
The Process ~ Caramel Frosting
TIP #6: Gently whisk or swirl the pan with the sugar, water, and salt. Be careful. Cooking sugar gets very hot.
Add the heavy cream in slowly. Then add the diced butter.
TIP #7: Before dicing the butter and cream cheese, place it in the freezer for 15 minutes. It will make the dicing so much easier.
TIP #8: The mixture is very hot and will bubble up. No kids allowed anywhere near the stove.
Remove the caramel mixture to a standing mixer. (I have had a Kitchen Aid mixer for years and I absolutely love it.) The mixer bowl will become hot. Whisk on high until the bowl cools and the caramel looks like below on the left. Now add your diced cream cheese, one cube at a time.
You can now take a little lick. I was right, wasn’t I? Heavenly.
Your pumpkin bars should be cool by now.
TIP #9: Use a large off-set spatula to spread the frosting evenly on top of the bars. Some will drip over the edges, but I try to just frost the top. You will have about a cup of frosting left over. Save it in the fridge for spreading on muffins, toast, pumpkin bread, or bribe your kids with it.
The Process ~ Garnishing the Pumpkin Cake
Finely dice the cooked bacon. You’ll also need some sea salt.
Sprinkle the bacon and sea salt all over the top of the pumpkin bars ~ which is technically, still a cake.
TIP #10: Place the pumpkin bars on an upside down sheet pan or flat surface and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to set the bars and frosting. I use a very sharp knife to cut them into 24 bars, 3 across and 8 down.
There you have it. Absolutely delicious. Serve for dessert or sneak a piece for breakfast. Share it. Enjoy Pumpkin Bacon Bars with Caramel Frosting. Make it for a party or a potluck dinner. Have it with coffee or tea. Sneak a piece before bedtime. I won’t tell.