Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bars

Pumpkin bars1Much of the world makes no sense to me. You may be thinking Thank you, Captain Obvious, but I’m talking about all the little facts and rules that just don’t seem reasonable. For example, in school you can get an A, B, C, D…or an F. I have never understood why there isn’t an E. Also, why do “fat chance” and “slim chance” mean the same thing, when they clearly sound like opposites? The teeny tiny candy bars are the “fun-sized” ones, and the numbers 11-13 have special names that completely ignore the pattern. Senseless, I tell you!

One of the things that always stumped me when I was little was the dates of the seasons. If it was up to me, summer would be June-August, fall would be September-November, winter would be December-February, and spring would be March-May. Of course, now I know that the “official” seasons do have a bit of legitimate reason behind them (“equinox” was not a term I was familiar with at the innocent age of 5), but I still find it strange to think that the coldest days in early December are actually “autumn” days and that the first three weeks of March are technically winter. Right now, for instance, we’re still on the tail end of summer. I can’t say that the weather down here in Oregon is disagreeing (we’re expected to reach 93 degrees today!), but with the start of school and the first orange leaves appearing on the trees outside my window, I can’t help but consider it to be autumn. September 15 just doesn’t make you think “summer!” Am I right or am I right?Pumpkin bars8

I’ve decided to officially declare it fall on Emma’s Baking Addiction and break out the pumpkin! One of my favorite times of the year to bake is during these autumn months, during the harvest season of giant juicy apples and bright orange pumpkins. I love baking with warm fall spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, especially when paired with apple or pumpkin baked goods. There’s nothing like the smell of pumpkin snickerdoodle bars or apple-cinnamon bread baking in the oven and filling the house with the scents of the season. I’ve been known to go a little pumpkin-crazy throughout September, October, and November, so expect more pumpkin recipes to come!Pumpkin bars5

Pumpkin is making its first debut of the year in the form of these Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bars. At first, the combination of pumpkin and chocolate may sound a bit odd (if it doesn’t, then hooray for you and your natural ability to recognize a good combo when you see one!) but it’s really fantastic. The soft, sweet, spiced pumpkin bars studded with pockets of rich chocolate are heaven! Also, don’t confuse these bars with snack cake or sheet cake…they’re a lot more like blondies in texture, and are supremely chewy and moist. There’s a time and a place for crumbly, fluffy pumpkin cake, but this is not it! These bars also stay soft for days, and I find that they taste best on the second or even third day when the flavors have melded and the spicy pumpkin flavor is enhanced.

Welcome fall with open arms by making a batch of these Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bars! I’ve already been asked for the recipe, and they didn’t last long around these parts. I’m so glad I didn’t wait until the official fall equinox to bake these…they’re just too good!Pumpkin bars2

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bars

Makes about 16 bars

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup chocolate chips

*Instead of pumpkin pie spice, you can use a mixture of 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg and cloves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang. Spray or grease lightly and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, egg, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, spices, and salt until smooth. Gently stir in the flour just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, reserving a tablespoon or so to sprinkle on top.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula and sprinkle evenly with reserved chocolate chips. Bake for about 30-34 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Cool completely before slicing into squares.

(Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks)

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