Monday, November 5, 2012

Rummy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

Rummy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
I'm not much of a "cake mix" baker. Even doctored up, they still taste like, well, cake mix cakes. In this house, a scratch cake always wins hands down. The only mix I actually ever keep on my shelf is for angel food cake. Mostly out of laziness and because the only way I use angel food cake is in something else like a trifle. When it's a component of another dessert, I really don't want to have to separate that many eggs, and carefully bake, just to tear it apart.

Now that I'm more seriously watching what I'm eating, even the boxed angel food cake is starting to look good. Some time ago, I saved a bunch of lower calorie recipes using angel food cake mix as the base, and all of them were diet friendly, albeit, not too interesting. The ones that looked the best used canned pumpkin in them, but even those looked like they could use a boost.

Variations of this recipe have been kicking around on blogs and the web for a few years, and while they look yummy, when you read the ingredient list, it adds up to not much in the taste department. I decided to fix that with some big, traditional flavor boosters for pumpkin: Rum, warm spices, and vanilla. It worked beautifully, and if you can stick to a piece or two, these pumpkin bars won't blow your diet. They're this gorgeous shade of pumpkin orange, moist and lightly spicy. Hard to not eat two or three. With a nice cup of coffee or tea, and a little dab of whipped cream, these Rummy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars make a real, satisfying dessert. These are very diet friendly; even eating two won't shoot your eating plan to hell for the day.

Rummy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

Makes 18 bars


1 8-oz pkg. of reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2T warm water

1 box angel food cake mix (the just add water type)
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
1T pumpkin pie spice (purchased or homemade like this)
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. natural rum extract


1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF, and spray a 9" x 13" baking pan with cooking oil spray.

2. With a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl with the vanilla, and the 2T of water until lose and very spreadable. Add an extra tablespoon of water if needed. Set aside.

3. In a separate medium bowl, beat all the remaining ingredients until smooth and well blended.

4. Spread 1/2 of the cake and pumpkin mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan evenly. Drop dabs  of  1/2 of the cream cheese mixture, with a tablespoon evenly over the top of the cake batter. Plac e the rest of the cake batter over the cream cheese layer, and then again drop tablespoons of the remaining cream cheese over the top.

5. With a small spatula or a table knife, make a few figure "8's" through the cake, swirling the cake batter and the cream cheese. Don't get too enthusiastic, as its too easy to over blend.

6. Place in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or a toothpick come out clean. Cool, and then cut into squares or rectangles. Makes about 18 bars.

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