Who doesn’t love a classic pumpkin bar? These delectable treats, made in a sheet pan and topped with a creamy layer of cream cheese frosting, are a must-try. And to add a touch of sweetness and spice, don’t forget the sprinkling of cinnamon Red Hots!
A Relatable Mom Moment
Picture this: at dinner tonight, I found myself scolding my two unruly children, Charlotte and Truman. “Stop looking at each other! Stop having fun!” I sighed, caught between frustration and sentimentality. As a mom, these moments can tug at your heartstrings, can’t they? However, in my defense, I must say there wasn’t nearly enough enthusiasm for eating green beans and far too much fork-stabbing going on. (Am I the only one whose kids turn forks into mini weapons of mass destruction?)
A Generous Portion for a Fun-Filled Family
This pumpkin bar recipe yields a generous amount of cake, enough to fill an entire 11×17-inch sheet pan. It’s perfect for a larger family, although in our case, only Eric and I usually indulge in its scrumptiousness. Why waste such a delightful dessert on the kids when they’re just as content, if not happier, with a simple Tootsie Pop? Now, I’m all for expanding my children’s taste buds with wholesome food, but when it comes to dessert, let them revel in the sheer pleasure of sugar.
They can remain blissfully unaware of the secret cake indulgence that takes place after bedtime.
A Frosting Dilemma
One evening, as Eric and I settled in for a Netflix session (yes, “Netflixing” is now a verb), he snacked on our leftover cake. I reached over for a bite, only to discover that he had devoured all the frosting and red hots, leaving behind most of the cake. I exclaimed, “What the heck?!” And he responded with, “My mom always adds more frosting than this! It needs more!”
Unraveling the Mystery of the Recipe
However, I know for a fact that his claim is untrue. Whenever my mother-in-law shares a recipe, I double-check her instructions. We’re always eager to uncover old family recipes, but she tends to find a similar one online and send it over instead. Just take a look at my meticulous fact-checking on recipes like Cowboy Soup, Mississippi Mud Cake, and Beef Barley Soup.
Just the other day, she was browsing through a Crunchy Asian Cabbage Salad with Crispy Fish recipe, which I adapted from her original. She remarked that the salad she makes is completely different. And I said, “But this is the one you gave me!” To which she replied, “Oh, I must have sent you the wrong one!” Why, oh why, Kris? You’ve been keeping me in the dark all these years.
So, you can understand why I relentlessly pester her for all the recipe details these days.
A Tribute to Paul: His Beloved Pumpkin Bars
Within our family, these delightful treats are lovingly referred to as Paul’s Pumpkin Bars, named after Kris’s dad, Paul, who simply adores them. He enjoys savoring them with a side of red hots, dipping each bite upside down into the bowl to ensure every morsel is coated in spicy sweetness.
When I asked my mother-in-law for the recipe, she directed me to a recipe on Allrecipes.com with the same name. I was initially puzzled, wondering if she had submitted it herself. However, it turns out to be a funny coincidence. (My guess is that the original recipe hails from Better Homes and Gardens and is also called Paul’s Pumpkin Bars.)
Unveiling the Secrets Behind the Bars
So, I relentlessly pressed her for all the modifications she makes to the recipe. And she obliged, providing me with precise details. That’s how I know, Eric, that this exact amount of frosting is the same as what your mother has always used for Paul’s Pumpkin Bars.
I’ll admit, when she mentioned adding Red Hots, I was quite skeptical. The idea seemed rather peculiar. However, she made these Pumpkin Bars for the kids while Eric and I were away in D.C., and she made sure Chip (my father-in-law) purchased Red Hots specifically for this recipe. According to her, Paul’s Pumpkin Bars simply aren’t complete without them. I scoffed initially, finding it hard to believe.
Red Hots: A Revelation
But now, I’m a firm believer. Red Hots are an absolute must, especially after allowing them to soften for 24 hours. They virtually melt in your mouth, adding an extra layer of flavor. Of course, if you’re not a fan, the bars are still incredibly delicious on their own. Moist and bursting with pumpkin goodness, they are a delight in every bite. Just don’t let Paul in on our little secret.
If you’re looking for a delightful pumpkin treat that the whole family will love, Paul’s Pumpkin Bars are an excellent choice. Indulge in their moist and flavorful goodness, topped with creamy cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of cinnamon Red Hots. You won’t be disappointed!
Discover more pumpkin recipes from our friends:
- Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars from Spicy Perspective
- Butter Pecan Frosted Pumpkin Bars from Shugary Sweets
- Pumpkin Amaretto Cheesecake Bars from Spend with Pennies
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