Pumpkin Caramel Pretzel Bars

I hope you all had a wonderful first day of autumn over the weekend! I know I did, and now that autumn is officially here, I’m excited to share one of my first pumpkin recipes of the season. I wax poetic about my love of fall every year, from the cool, crisp mornings, colorful leaves, jeans and hoodies, football, and cups of hot apple cider, not to mention the fact that I’m that crazy person who starts putting up fall decorations mid-August – sad but true. Today’s recipe is a combination of my pumpkin shortbread recipe and those millionaire shortbread bars that you can find all over the Internet. For the caramel layer in mine, I followed the recipe for the caramel layer in Jamie’s Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars, because her method was of caramel-making was so easy. Seriously. I’ve always been a little intimidated by it, but if you have a microwave and a whisk, you can make it! And of course, instead of chocolate on top of the traditional millionaire shortbread bars, I had to take my version over the top on the sweet/salty chart by topping them with some crushed pretzels while the caramel layer was still warm. I hope you enjoy them, and happy autumn!

Recipe adapted from here and here.

For the pumpkin cookie layer:

  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 10 Tbsp butter, cut into 1″ pieces

For the caramel layer:

  • 12 Tbsp butter
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 Tbsp agave

For the topping:

  • 1 cup crushed pretzels

To make the pumpkin cookie layer, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray an 8″ square baking dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the dish with parchment paper. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin, and butter. Stir on low with the paddle attachment. When the dough forms into a ball, remove and press into the prepared dish.

Pierce with a fork and bake 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 300 degrees.

Bake 30-40 minutes longer or until light golden brown. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the caramel, in a deep microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Stir in the condensed milk and agave. Whisk until well-combined. Heat in the microwave 7 minutes until boiling, stirring every 30 seconds. DO NOT leave unattended because it can boil over. The caramel is ready when thickened and light golden brown.

Pour the hot caramel over the cooled cookie layer.

Sprinkle the crushed pretzels over the caramel layer. Allow the bars to cool completely.

Once set, cut the bars into pieces. Store in the refrigerator…best served straight from the fridge!

32 Responses to “Pumpkin Caramel Pretzel Bars”

  1. 1 Sarah Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 9:52 am

    These look amazing. I’ve got a family get-together this weekend, and I may have to make these.

  2. 2 Aimee @ Simple Bites Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Seriously! You had me at pumpkin shortbread. Sold!

  3. 3 Allison Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Really!? These will be the death of me, but I can’t think of a better way to die. I am SO making these today!!

  4. 4 Colleen @ What's Baking in the Barbershop?! Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 10:03 am

    These look simply heavenly! What a great flavor combo of the caramel and pretzel…oh, and the pumpkin too, of course. :) A perfect way to celebrate fall, for sure!!

  5. 5 Stephanie Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Who doesn’t love autumn? =)

    I think the addition of crushed pretzels is great!

  6. 6 Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Pretzels and pumpkin together? With caramel? Delicious!

  7. 7 Cassie @ Bake Your Day Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 10:47 am

    The pumpkin cookie layer is divine. Love the sweet and salty!

  8. 8 Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Whoa! Totally never thought I could do caramel in the microwave…you’re inspiring me!! :)

  9. 9 Jill Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Looking so forward to trying this! I had leftover pumpkin after I made pumpkin bread and there seems to be the perfect amount left for this recipe. What luck!!!

  10. 10 Aimee @ ShugarySweets Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Oh my word these look amazing!

  11. 11 Trish Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I’ve never actually made shortbread before, which seems highly inappropriate now that I’m really thinking about it :)

  12. 12 Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    These look awesome! I love the combination of sweet and salty. You showed much more restraint than I did with the pumpkin…I think I posted my first pumpkin recipe as soon as September arrived :)

  13. 13 shelly (cookies and cups) Says:
    September 26th, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Oh, this might be the perfect cookie.

  14. 14 Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies Says:
    September 26th, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Oh man, Tracy. I don’t have agave, so I think I’ll sub maple syrup – maple caramel? I might have just died and gone to heaven. You’ve made the most perfect autumnal bar!

  15. 15 Jessica@AKitchenAddiction Says:
    September 26th, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Pumpkin and caramel with pretzels?! Love these!

  16. 16 Shaina Says:
    September 26th, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Love this. Pumpkin Caramel, wow.

  17. 17 Rachel @ Baked by Rachel Says:
    September 26th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    This isn’t too sweet/salty – just right! Love it.

  18. 18 Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe Says:
    September 26th, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    These look awesome! Pumpkin, caramel, and pretzels, all in one. A masterpiece!

  19. 19 Jen @ Savory Simple Says:
    September 26th, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Woah! where have these been all my life?

  20. 20 Renee Says:
    September 27th, 2012 at 2:22 am

    I love the combination of flavors you’ve got going here. I would love to be eating these right this second.

  21. 21 Liz (Little Bitty Bakes) Says:
    September 28th, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Oh my gosh, these sound delicious enough with just the pumpkin shortbread and caramel layer! The pretzels on top just put them.. over the top! I’m sure they add the perfect saltiness and crunch!

  22. 22 Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction Says:
    September 30th, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    These look like salty sweet perfection. I’m afraid I’d eat the whole batch!

  23. 23 Jamie | My Baking Addiction Says:
    October 1st, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Caramel, pumpkin AND pretzels? Whoa, Tracy – this is my kind of dessert!

  24. 24 JulieD Says:
    October 2nd, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Oh my word, Tracy!! This looks amazing!!

  25. 25 jennifurla Says:
    October 2nd, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Oh man, what I would do for 5 of these right now

  26. 26 Erika - The Teenage Taste Says:
    October 3rd, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Now this is my kind of dessert! Love the pumpkin base too!

  27. 27 Sharon Says:
    October 4th, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Was wondering how long this keeps in fridge? Secondary question is, do the pretzels get limp after refriigerating? The recipe sounds absolutely wonderful!

  28. 28 Annamaria @ bakewell junction Says:
    October 8th, 2012 at 10:10 am

    These bars look quite delicious.

  29. 29 Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen Says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 11:44 am

    **passes out** Seriously this looks amazing!

  30. 30 Tracy Says:
    October 10th, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Sharon – Mine kept in the fridge for about a week and a half before starting to get a little too hard…and, while the pretzels aren’t as crunchy as when they’re fresh, I didn’t think they totally lost their texture or anything. Hope you enjoy them!

  31. 31 Sarah @ a Dash and a Pinch Says:
    October 24th, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Hey, are these what you brought to our meet-up? Because these were pretty awesome! I loved the texture of the creamy-ness combined with the crunch of the pretzels.

  32. 32 Tracy Says:
    October 25th, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Sarah – Yes they were! So glad you enjoyed them!! :-)

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