By now, I’ve been at this professional recipe development thing for long enough that my family and friends are completely unfazed by eating unseasonal food. When I worked in the publishing industry, I would be roasting Thanksgiving turkeys (and trying, unsuccessfully, to find fresh cranberries to accompany them) in May, frosting Christmas cookies in July, and be standing at the outdoor grill in boots and a coat in January, testing recipes for kabobs. The freelance world of recipe development doesn’t always work as far ahead as the publishing industry, but there’s still some fun, completely unseasonal projects from time to time.
These Spiced Applesauce Bars with Pumpkin Frosting were made and photographed on the last Friday in July. I know that because my favorite hometown event of the year, the Ferndale Pub Crawl is also the last Friday in July. I was just finishing up the photographs of these bad boys when the first guests for our pre-crawl party showed up. I wasn’t really in the mood to clean everything up (I was ready for beer!), so I just shoved all the cut applesauce bars, bowl of pumpkin frosting, random pile of sprinkles, frosting-crusted knife, and all other implements of destruction onto a big sheet pan and shoved it in the corner of the kitchen.
I figured everybody would just think it was some strange experiment and largely ignore it. Especially if they figured out it involved pumpkin. I mean, it was July! It was 90 degrees! But like I said, my friends are completely unfazed by unseasonal items coming out of my kitchen, and the whole pan of these was almost gone in a blink of the eye. We had the party in the backyard, and all evening, people seemed to come out of the house saying “I don’t know what those were, on that pan in the corner, but they were good!”
Nobody can say I don’t know how to throw a pub crawl party. Beer + pumpkin desserts. What could be a better combination?
Spiced Applesauce Bars with Pumpkin Frosting
For the Spiced Applesauce Bars:
- Organic nonstick cooking spray
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup agave nectar
- 1/3 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup applesauce
- 1/3 cup raisins
For the Pumpkin Frosting:
- 8 ounces light cream cheese
- 1/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus additional if needed
- Make the Spiced Applesauce Bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x13-inch glass baking pan with cooking spray. In medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.
- In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, mix butter, agave, brown sugar and egg until well combined. Mix in applesauce; gradually add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Stir in raisins.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan. Transfer to oven and bake 20 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of pan comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
- Make the Pumpkin Frosting: In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese, pumpkin and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. If you desire a sweeter frosting, beat in additional sugar in 2 tablespoon increments until desired level of sweetness is achieved. Spread on Spiced Applesauce Bars and serve.