Once a month we’re featuring a new family-friendly dish from the Hatfields for our Kids Can Cook section. The dairy-free teen cooking star is Katherine and this week she and her “mama”, Sarah, are making Frosted Pumpkin Bars with Dairy-Free Spiced Buttercream! Their recipe has been spiced up from a cooking icon favorite.
Years ago, before we knew how to make a dairy-free pumpkin pie, my mom saw Paula Deen make dairy-free pumpkin bars on the Food Network. My dad found the recipe online, and a family tradition was born. We have perfected many dairy-free holiday recipes since then, including pumpkin pie, but these frosted pumpkin bars remain a favorite. Particularly among young children who can take or leave squash pies.
These frosted pumpkin bars are simple for kids to make and are a great way for them to participate in Thanksgiving cooking. They can be made a day or two ahead and then frosted before serving, so little bakers can make something for Thanksgiving dinner without being underfoot on the big day.
The original recipe calls for cream cheese icing, and Alisa has a great dairy-free recipe for one here. Sometimes we just dust them with powdered sugar, which is an easy way for young cooks to top them. But this year Katherine and I were inspired by the Simply Organic Dairy-Free Bakeoff to create a Dairy-Free Spiced Buttercream Frosting. We also upped the spices in the cake itself and swapped in some spelt flour for added flavor, nutrition, and texture.
Yes, these bars are rich and sweet, but it’s Thanksgiving! We sometimes cut them into 48 servings instead of 24 so that everyone can try a bite with their pie and not go into a sugar coma. They are a great addition to any holiday buffet.
Special Diet Notes: Frosted Pumpkin Bars
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian. We have not yet trialed other free-from versions, but I can recommend the following if you want to give it a shot:
- For gluten-free frosted pumpkin bars, your favorite gluten-free baking flour blend should work well.
- For egg-free and vegan frosted pumpkin bars, please note that this recipe is rather reliant on eggs. If you must, I think that whipped aquafaba would be the best swap, but I would stick with the flours in the recipe as written (not gluten-free). If you confuse eggs with dairy, you’re not alone! See this post: Are Eggs Dairy?
- 1⅔ cups sugar
- 1 cup non-GMO canola oil or baking oil of your choice
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- Dairy-free Spiced Buttercream Frosting (1 full batch)
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF and grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.
- Add the sugar, oil, pumpkin, and eggs to a large mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, mix until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice.
- Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined.
- Spread the batter into your prepared baking pan and even out.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the bars cool completely.
- Frost with the Spiced Buttercream Frosting.
- Cut into 24 bars or 48 bars for bite-sized servings.