Pumpkin Caramel Bars with Bacon (or not!)

So I’m bringing up a rather controversial subject today…to add bacon or not to dessert.
Well, it was definitely controversial at my house.  The more I blog the more I want to try new things and be more adventurous about food.  And bacon in dessert was something I’d been wanting to try.  My husband was dead set against the idea of it.  That is why I only used half of the bacon that this recipe called for, I needed to keep the peace among us.
After trying both versions, he still said that he liked the un-baconed one better.  Me?  I loved it with the bacon.  It was such a nice, salty balance to the sweetness of the frosted bar.  Our son?  He couldn’t stop asking for ‘the bacon cake’ – he loved it too!
One thing I will say about adding the bacon, if you have to store these overnight, I would wait to add the bacon until the next day when you are serving them.  The bacon softened up and wasn’t crispy after being stored in a covered container with these moist delicious bars.
The frosting is a whole ‘nother story…a m a z i n g!  I’ve never made a caramel frosting before and now I’m certain that I will never make a pumpkin bar with ordinary cream cheese frosting again.  It is definitely off the hook (yes, I’ve been watching The Sing Off – love that show).
Bacon lover or not, please try these bars – you will thank me!  And yes, the plate pictured below is the same plate that was pictured in Monday’s post, it’s so lovely and fabulous that I can’t help but use it when I take pictures of pumpkin related things.
The bars:
8 oz. BACON, diced*
2 cups FLOUR
1 teaspoon BAKING SODA
1/2 teaspoon SALT
1 1/2 cups PUMPKIN PUREE
1/2 cup BROWN SUGAR, packed
2 Tablespoons BUTTER, melted*
1 teaspoon VANILLA
1/4 cup CHOPPED, TOASTED PECANS (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9×13 pan.  Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate.  Set aside and reserve to 2 Tablespoons bacon drippings.*
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugars, egg, melted butter, bacon drippings and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture and pecans, if using.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.  Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting.
The frosting:
2 cups BROWN SUGAR, packed
1/3 cup WATER
Pinch of SALT
1 stick BUTTER, cubed
4 oz. CREAM CHEESE, cut into 1-inch cubes
Boil brown sugar, water and pinch of salt in a large saucepan over high heat, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.  Whisk in cream and butter pieces.  (Mixture will be very bubbly, continue whisking.)  Boil 2 minutes more.
Transfer caramel to the bowl of a stand mixer; whip on high speed until sides of bowl are cool to the touch and the caramel is thick, about 10 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add cream cheese, 1 cube at a time, until frosting is smooth.
Frost bars and sprinkle with bacon before serving.
*I only used 4 oz. of bacon.  From that bacon I had only 1 1/2 Tablespoons of bacon drippings.  So I added another 1/2 Tablespoon of melted butter.  If you decide not to use the bacon, use 2 Tablespoons of melted butter to replace the bacon drippings that you would have had.
Recipe Source: Noble Pig
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  1. says

    These look yummy with or without the bacon…but I would definitely want to try with a sprinkling of the bacon first….its always surprising if you have never had bacon on top of a sweet treat how great the flavor combo really is.

  2. says

    As much as it sounds good…the sweet and salty…I just can’t do it! The only way I eat bacon is on a BLT sandwich! I would have to go with the yummy sounding un-bacon cake:-)

  3. says

    I think the whole bacon controversy is so funny, it’s almost as if people get offended when you add it to desserts. I made a Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie, absolutely loved it!, but it definitely got mixed reviews.

    These bars look and sound fabulous though, and that plate is beautiful! Love!

  4. says

    Just wanted to let you know that I featured both your recipe and your site yesterday. Have fun next month as a hostess! Thanks for participating in October as well!


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