maple brown butter cream cheese frosting (on pumpkin bars)

mid-frost stack

So I really wasn’t planning on posting this recipe.  When I made these bars and this frosting, I felt like I’d already posted more than enough pumpkin recipes, so I just snapped a few lazy shots of them (because I can’t not) and shelved them.  But then I tasted these.  And I tasted this frosting.  And this frosting alone made me go back and scour the few photos I had for something halfway decent.  Because this frosting is just too damn good, y’all.  Made by Laura at Tutti Dolci, it’s maple syrup, and brown butter, and cream cheese, all whipped into the most decadent, satisfyingly complex frosting imaginable.  It can’t not be posted, because the whole world needs to know about it.  So here’s an extra little mid-week post, in all its poorly photographed glory.  I know I’ll have some leftover pumpkin after Thanksgiving to use on making these bars, so if you do too, I highly recommend trying this remarkable frosting on it.

Maple Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting, from Tutti Dolci

Yield: enough for a dozen cupcakes if frosted, and about six if piped. Easily doubled.


  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (for brown butter)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz (1/2 package) Neufchatel cheese (or regular cream cheese), softened
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp maple syrup


  1. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it crackles, then turns a dark brown. It should begin to smell nutty and generally awesome. I didn't let the butter go as dark as I did for these apple crumbles, since I figured the flavor would be stronger in frosting, but the darker the butter is, the stronger the brown butter flavor will be. Set aside and let cool.
  2. If mixing by hand like I did, cream butter and cheese together until very smooth. Add salt and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, then beat again until incorporated. Add the remaining powdered sugar in two batches, beating after each addition. Finally, add maple syrup and beat again until smooth.
  3. If the frosting is too runny, add more confectioners' sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency. Alternatively, you can let it chill in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes before spreading to increase its firmness. I only used 1/2 tablespoon of maple syrup, so I found it to be the right consistency to spread right away.
  4. For instructions on beating the frosting with a mixer (which I recommend! So much easier) check out Laura's original post at Tutti Dolci.

Use the frosting over my favorite half-batch recipe for perfect pumpkin cupcakes or these fantastically dense and moist pumpkin bars by Life’s Simple Measures (scaled-down recipe for 9×9 inch glass dish follows). However you use it, be prepared to have your life changed.

cake overhead

Pumpkin Bars by Life's Simple Measures

Serving Size: enough for one 9x9 glass dish, or about 16-20 bars


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, heaping
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a 9x9 Pyrex dish with parchment paper or grease very well. (If using a metal pan, preheat to 350 degrees.) Combine pumpkin, oil, eggs, and both sugars in a large bowl and cream until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the remaining ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices). Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix gently just until incorporated.
  2. Pour pumpkin mixture into dish and spread evenly. Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If using a metal pan, bake at 350.
  3. Let cool, frost, and serve!

With Thanksgiving coming up, you might also like these:

Half-batch recipe for pumpkin cupcakes, with maple cream cheese frosting
Fluffy and moist pumpkin cupcakes, perfect for this maple brown butter cream cheese frosting.
Individual brown butter cheddar apple crumbles.
An easy alternative to Thanksgiving pie, also with brown butter! Individual brown butter cheddar apple crumbles.
Roasted Brussels sprouts and chips, three ways.
For a perfect last minute Thanksgiving side dish, try these simple roasted Brussels sprouts. Roast the outer leaves to make chips and save the hearts for traditional roasted sprouts or for another use.


    • tworedbowls says:

      November 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      Girl. Only if I was prepared to judge myself! (And thanks, Nancy! I feel like we’re all our own worst critics when it comes to our photos, aren’t we?)

  1. says:

    November 26, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    I have to agree with Nancy…and quite honestly I don’t think you can take a bad photo. This frosting is so luscious. Never thought to add maple and brown butter to a cream cheese frosting. Love the pumpkin bread recipe too…looks pretty simple, and that is how I roll when it comes to baking bread. 🙂

    • tworedbowls says:

      November 27, 2013 at 9:14 am

      Aw, thank you so much. That means a lot — I feel like I’ve been frustrated with my pictures lately! But it’s always good to be reminded of how you can improve 🙂 And yes!! I had only just found out about maple cream cheese frosting a few months ago, and then I saw brown butter and it totally changed my world. Loved the pumpkin bars as well — you should definitely try the combo. 🙂 The frosting also tastes fantastic on cinnamon rolls. Thanks so much for your wonderful comments, as always.

    • tworedbowls says:

      November 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Laura! Your frosting was divine. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!! 🙂

    • tworedbowls says:

      November 29, 2013 at 10:03 am

      Haha YES!!! I love it! I don’t know who’s more excited about that, your puree or me! I hope you love the frosting as much as I do. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy Thanksgiving 🙂

  2. says:

    November 29, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Oh my gosh when you listed those three ingredients I went weak at the knees. Cream cheese frosting is my absolute favourite! And maple syrup?!?!?! And brown butter!! Holy moly. That sounds incredible. Thank you so much for sharing! I think this is going to be my new favourite frosting recipe of all time 🙂

    • tworedbowls says:

      November 30, 2013 at 8:53 am

      That’s exactly what I thought when I found Laura’s recipe!!! I think it definitely has a good shot at that title for me, too 😉 Hope you love it if you make it!

    • tworedbowls says:

      November 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      Thank you so much! (Even though I can’t quite take credit for any of it!) They’re some of my favorite flavors too, and they go amazingly together 🙂 Though I’m convinced brown butter goes with anything.

    • tworedbowls says:

      December 1, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      Haha, I’m the same way! I’m always eyeing the Libby’s cans in the baking aisle at any time of year. Thank you so much, Cate!

    • tworedbowls says:

      December 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Thank you so much! And I’m so glad you commented on my blog so that I could find yours! I’m off to read more now (love those swirl biscotti, they remind me of a shortbread cookie I made! We think alike!)

  3. says:

    December 6, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Can I just say that I came upon your blog and love it! I’m so jealous that you live in NYC, where I’m trying to end up in the next 6 months. If you ever come to San Francisco, you’ll have to let me know!

    • tworedbowls says:

      December 8, 2013 at 12:23 am

      Aw, thank you so much, Shikha!!! Oh gosh, I’m jealous of YOU that you live in SF! I loved it when I was there. If I’m ever back you can give me the inside scoop 🙂 And don’t be too jealous of us over here… Just look us up on and you’ll feel better. haha. Are you looking for a job out here? Good luck, hope we’ll be neighbors soon! 🙂

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