Pumpkin Pecan Blondies with Cream Cheese Swirl – Pumpkin Pie, Squared

Pumpkin Pecan Blondies with Cream Cheese Swirl - Pumpkin Pie, Squared

Point of fact: I am not good at the holidays. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the food and family and friends part of it… but the planning and the decorating and the making-it-all-look-effortless part? Not so much.

The other day, a friend commented to me that they normally had their Christmas tree up by now, and my mind went spinning. I haven’t thought past Thanksgiving yet (not to mention Hanukkah falls on the same day this year), but now I’m supposed to consider what comes after?

Last year, I had a grand plan of buying a big wreath for the front of our house. Something simple that would keep us from sticking out like a sore thumb amongst a neighborhood full of twinkling lights and decorations. Then I went wreath shopping, and discovered that real wreaths — nice wreaths — are not exactly cheap. (Read: expensive as hell.)

For a moment I contemplated taking matters into my own hands and getting my DIY on… but you know that didn’t happen.

Pumpkin Pecan Blondies with Cream Cheese Swirl - Pumpkin Pie, Squared

This year my mother asked me, “so, now that you have a puppy, are you going to put up lights for the holidays?” First of all, I’m not even sure how that’s supposed to make sense… do dogs appreciate Christmas lights? Secondly, I have yet to open a string of lights and have it work properly, without half the string being dead on arrival. Fiddling with tiny bulbs and tangled cords is just another level of stress I don’t need around the holidays!

Fortunately, T-Hubs and I have the pleasure of going to visit our families over the holidays, and not the other way around. I’m off the hook until it comes time for us to host… then I’m in trouble.

Then again, perhaps if I shove something tasty at people as they walk through the door, they might not notice the lack of decor?

I think these Pumpkin Pecan Blondies would work nicely. They’re moist, gooey, and flavorful, and full of holiday goodness. Plus, you can’t say what they are without wanting to say “Pum-Pecan Blondies”. (Go ahead, try it. Pum-Pecan. It just feels right.)

Pumpkin Pecan Blondies with Cream Cheese Swirl - Pumpkin Pie, Squared

What is it about pumpkin and cream cheese that’s so perfect? I’m not normally big on cream cheese anything, but if it’s on top of a carrot cake, or swirled through pumpkin, I am all in. In fact, my only gripe about these beauties is that there wasn’t enough cream cheese. I’ve revised the recipe below to include making a second layer of swirl — pour half the batter into the pan, swirl with cream cheese, then pour the rest, and repeat — instead of just one swirl on top. Perfection!

Pumpkin Pecan Blondies with Cream Cheese Swirl
Makes about 24 blondies – adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, or 12 TBSP) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8th tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 cups homemade pumpkin puree (instructions here – or about one 15oz. can)
1 1/2 cups pecans, roughly chopped (or walnuts)
Optional: other add-ins, like chocolate chips, toffee bits, or mini marshmallows

(I used rounded measurements on all the spices, because that’s how I roll)

For the cream cheese swirl:
4oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 TBSP granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature

For the cream cheese swirl mixture:
1.   In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and egg, until completely smooth. Set aside.
For the blondies:
1.   Preheat oven to 350f., and grease a 9×12 inch baking dish. Line with parchment paper, and set aside.
2.   Whisk together flour, spices, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
3.   In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat well. Add the pumpkin puree and beat to combine.
4.   Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and fold with a rubber spatula until no pockets of flour remain. Fold in the pecans, and any other add-ins.
5.   Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking dish. Dollop about half of the cream cheese mixture over the top of the batter, placing a spoonful here, a spoonful there, around the pan. Use the tip of a knife or a toothpick to swirl the dollops around — do not over-mix, or the swirls will disappear into the batter.
6.   Pour the remaining blondie batter into the pan, and smooth the surface. Dollop the rest of the cream cheese mixture on top, and swirl again with the tip of a knife or toothpick.
7.   Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.



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14 Responses to Pumpkin Pecan Blondies with Cream Cheese Swirl – Pumpkin Pie, Squared

  1. Abby November 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Wishing I had one of these blondies with my cup of tea right now! yum. And I was nodding my head through your whole post haha, the price of wreaths?! it’s outrageous! ;) And I fully support taking one holiday at a time, I try to hold off on anything Christmas-y until at least after Thanksgiving.

    • Willow Arlen November 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

      Thanks, Abby! Glad I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll get ambitious one of these years…

  2. movita beaucoup November 13, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    I woke up this morning in a total panic about the holidays. Mostly because, as per usual, 2.0 and I vowed to get things taken care of in October, and now it’s November 13th and WE’VE DONE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Maybe I should bathe myself and do something – anything – festive and productive today. Wait… is that a sunny patch beside the cat? {sound of body sliding to floor}

    Totally adopting your use of the word Pum-Pecan – even in situations that do not require it. Also, my sister really likes blondies, but isn’t a fan of overly sweet stuff. I’m thinking these might be right up her alley what with the pumpkin, spices and all…

    • Willow Arlen November 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Ha! I am the same way {slides onto floor next to you}… I’ll get things done later. :P

  3. Amy @ Elephant Eats November 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    Haha I guess puppy-owning and holiday decorating are both grown-up activities :) I kind of agree…i think i’ll finally feel grownup when we move into our house next year and I can finally buy real furniture and decorate! You’re right, pumpkin and cream cheese go so so well together. I’m adding these to my baking list!

  4. shannon weber November 16, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    oh my goodness, these look WAYYYY too good. i don’t know what it is about pumpkin and cream cheese either, but it’s a delightful combo and it never gets old. at least to me.
    i love your mom’s logic regarding puppies and your need for christmas lights! i mean, it’s *like* having a baby…and he is old enough to appreciate some sparkles, so… ;)

  5. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes November 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    SO pretty! and you are totally onto something, distract them with something sweet; I typically go for the one two punch; something to eat and shove a drink into their hand and all of a sudden all is right with the world :) Your mom’s comment is hilarious!

    Luckily we have a farm stand who sells handmade wreaths (large enough to put up on the garage ) for a decent price and they are beautiful! As for Christmas Trees, ours never goes up until about 2-3 weeks before Christmas never earlier but sometimes later!

    • Willow Arlen November 23, 2013 at 4:16 am #

      Good thinking, Heather! I’ll have to work a cocktail in there, too. And you’re lucky to have a good place to get wreaths — I always keep my eye out in the hope I’ll find something nice (and not too expensive), but no luck so far.

  6. Jill November 23, 2013 at 4:05 am #

    Hi Willow! I think there may be an error in your recipe. Your instructions say to bake in a 9 x 5 pan. I baked this in a 9 x 7 brownie pan and they were about 2.25 inches thick and took an hour to fully cook! Is it supposed to be a 9 x 12 pan perhaps? They still taste great, just more like a pumpkin bread than a cookie bar… : )

    • Willow Arlen November 23, 2013 at 4:11 am #

      Hi, Jill – I am so sorry! It’s an honest typo, and I can’t believe I didn’t catch it… yes, it is supposed to say a 9 x 12. I’ll go back to edit the recipe so it doesn’t trip anyone else up. Glad they turned out okay anyway! :)

    • Jill November 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      Well if I had read the recipe closely I would have seen ‘makes 24 bars’. Hmmm kinda hard with a 9 x 5 pan! HA! I wonder if they even make a 9 x 5 pan??? Oh well…I will be making these again with raisins….yum!

  7. Georgette Barrera August 29, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    Can you bake ahead of time and freeze these? They look delicious.

    • Willow Arlen August 30, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

      Hi Georgette, that’s a great question! I’ve never tried freezing them, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Would love to know how it goes if you try it!


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