It’s the time of year for pumpkin spice everything. These pumpkin and maple labneh swirl bars are a fun, Middle Eastern slant on healthy pumpkin cream cheese bars.
These maple labneh swirl bars are similar but not the same as traditional pumpkin cream cheese bars. I think you’re going to love this updated take on a fall favorite.
What’s different? First, the spices! I use kafe hawaij instead of traditional pumpkin spice. So what is Kafe Hawaij? It’s a sweetly fragrant combination of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and clove. New York Shuk describes this spice blend as the Middle Eastern pumpkin spice.
Brought from Yemen to Israel, Kafe Hawaij is served in coffee for a sweet cup of goodness in the morning. You can also use it as a way to add a new take on your favorite fall dessert, like these healthy pumpkin bars!
The next update? Sticking with the Middle Eastern theme, I opted to use labneh instead of cream cheese. What is labneh? Labneh is a popular soft cheese–similar to cream cheese–but a bit thinner. It’s made from strained yogurt and has about half the fat and calories of cream cheese, making this a much healthier alternative to cream cheese.
One thing about labneh is that it is much sharper and more acidic than cream cheese. so you want to taste it and add more maple syrup as needed to get it to your preferred level of sweetness.
How to make these pumpkin and maple labneh swirl bars:
All you need is a few bowls, a hand-mixer, and a 9×13 baking pan along with parchment paper.
First, prepare your dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set them aside (pro-tip: wipe out the bowl and reuse it for your labneh mixture!). Next, prepare the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Place parchment paper in the baking sheet and then pour in half of the pumpkin mixture over the parchment paper.
Prepare the labneh and spoon 2/3 of the mixture into randomly placed drops over the pumpkin and use a toothpick (or your hands, if you’re feeling wild) to create a swirl pattern. Add the remaining pumpkin and the remaining labneh and use a spatula to smooth it out on top to ensure that both batters go edge-to-edge.
Bake that deliciousness for about 35–45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow them to mostly cool and enjoy with a healthy serving of whipped cream and a dusting of kafe hawaij on top!
Looking for more dessert recipes? Check my archives!
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Pumpkin and Maple Labneh Swirl Bars
- Mixing Bowls
- Hand mixer
- 9×13 Baking Pan
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon kafe hawaij or pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 15- ounce can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup labneh
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Prepare the dry ingredients:
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and kafe hawaij (or pumpkin pie spice).
Prepare the wet ingredients:
- Place the unsalted butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with a hand-mixer until whipped and smooth. Add the brown sugar and continue mixing until combined.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat for 1 minute.
- Add the pumpkin puree to the wet ingredients and beat until just combined and smooth.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients:
- Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Do NOT overmix. It will look a bit lumpy and not as smooth as cake batter, and that's okay. Wash off the beaters.
Prepare the baking sheet:
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving an overhang of paper on all sides.
- Add half the pumpkin mixture to the baking sheet, using a rubber spatula to smooth it out. Set aside.
Prepare the labneh mixture:
- Wipe out the bowl used for the flour.
- Place the labneh in the bowl. Mix on high with the hand mixer until smooth. Add the sugar, egg, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and continue mixing until completely smooth. Taste and add more maple syrup if you prefer a sweeter labneh.
Finish preparing the baking sheet:
- Using a spoon, drop half the labneh mixture over the layer of pumpkin mixture and use a toothpick to create a swirl pattern.
- Pour the remaining pumpkin mixture on top and smooth it out with a spatula. It won't be perfect but that's okay! Drop the remaining labneh mixture on top and smooth it out once more and ensure the mixture goes edge-to-edge.
Bake the pumpkin bars:
- Transfer the baking sheet to the preheated oven for 35–45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting. Serve with whipped cream and a dusting of kafe hawaij.
- Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.