If you’re looking for an easier version of the classic pumpkin roll, I’ve got you covered. These pumpkin roll bars have all the components of the original cakes, but are so much easier to make and serve you might never go back.
This recipe was originally published on October 19, 2014, and was republished in October 2020 to add better quality photos, re-test the recipe, and add more helpful tips.
Pumpkin is one of those flavors that truly embraces a season. While you might get the freshest oranges in winter or really ripe strawberries in spring, you will inevitably see those flavors in desserts throughout the year. But pumpkin you almost never see outside of fall.
Perhaps it is this lack the rest of the year that makes it that much more special when we do eat it. And why we have such iconic recipes for it: pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin rolls! And then of course there’s pumpkin spice blend that is everywhere this time of year.
Making treats healthier
While I have been trying to eat healthier – especially with a growing family – I don’t think I will ever give up my sweet and creamy treats. I love them too much. But even if I don’t go so far as to make them truly healthy, I can still include more nutrients in my desserts so that my family gets some good stuff at the same time.
Perhaps there’s not a lot that can be done to make a cheesecake swirled pumpkin roll bar healthy, but there are a few small steps I’ve taken. Primarily, trading some of the white all-purpose flour for whole wheat. I know I talk about the benefits of whole grains a lot, but it is such an easy step to take and you get extra vitamins, protein, and fiber.
Another one of my easy replacements in this recipe is using my own pumpkin puree. Admittedly, I use homemade simply because you can’t find canned pumpkin puree in Lithuania. But even if it was available, I would use what I made myself so that I know exactly what goes into it. There are so many preservatives and added sugars in processed foods that you just can’t be sure.
In my efforts to include fewer processed ingredients, I have switched the white sugar in this recipe for coconut sugar. I even tried making the cheesecake swirl with maple syrup but, unfortunately, it turned out too runny so I had to leave powdered sugar here.
A perfect party recipe
While the classic pumpkin roll with cream cheese filling is great, taking it to an event can be more challenging. Cakes that require plates and forks need so much more planning. So, I turned all those same flavors into a bar. Easy to transport, serve, and eat!
Bars are the perfect thing to take to potlucks and parties. Individually portioned for easy serving, but without the work of forming hand pies or a miniature version of something. It makes these much faster and foolproof – no cracking cakes or filling squishing out!
They are so easy, and there are so many options – at least one for every season. If you are looking for some other bars that work well for fall parties, perhaps try salted caramel apple cheesecake brownies or chocolate coconut cookie bars. I don’t think there is a single option that will disappoint.
Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Roll Bars
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups pumpkin puree (I used homemade)
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Filling:
- 8 oz. (225g) cream cheese , softened
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Set aside.
- In a larger bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars until combined. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients until combined. Spread about 2/3 of the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Set aside.
- In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla until fully incorporated and smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.
- Spread this cream cheese mixture evenly over the pumpkin batter. Dollop the remaining pumpkin batter over the cream cheese layer. Take a butter knife and gently swirl the batter. Sprinkle the walnuts over the top, and using a spatula, gently press into the batter.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center of the pumpkin batter is set and springs back when touched. Remove from oven and let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack. Cut into squares and serve.
- Store these pumpkin roll bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator.