Nov 9, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars (Chocolate Optional)

This is a great twist on a traditional pumpkin cheesecake-perfect for your holiday spread.  Who doesn’t love cheesecake, especially around the holidays?!  If you are looking to serve something other than just plain pumpkin desserts, this recipe comes highly recommended.  The recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Everyday Food” program on PBS. This dessert rivals the pumpkin cheesecakes offered in restaurants.  It is also great served as a bar, rather than in slices, because you can make bite-size servings which are perfect for this deliciously rich dessert.  You can also add chocolate if you like. Another great thing about this recipe, is that it can be made a day ahead. 

Caitlin: Loved this. I opted to leave out the chocolate (crazy, I know), and just make the pumpkin cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. I pretty much followed the exact recipe, substituting graham crackers for the chocolate wafers and leaving out the melted chocolate. They were moist and still really good without the chocolate. I did have a little difficulty with the parchment paper, too much of an overhang will burn in the oven, yet too little makes it harder to take out of the dish (once you read the recipe, you’ll understand). Next time, I may try leaving out the parchment paper altogether and slice them from the pan. Other than that, it was pretty easy and fairly quick – aside from the setting time in the refrigerator.

 Monica: The thing that intrigued me about this recipe was the combination of semi-sweet chocolate and pumpkin.  I usually tend to prefer chocolate desserts, especially around the holidays.  This recipe did not fail to deliver on taste. The bars are moist and the crust held the bar nicely. I opted to do the chocolate wafer crust, not only was it easy, it also looked great against the color of the pumpkin filling.  I also used 3 oz of semisweet chocolate instead of 4 oz, because I was afraid the chocolate might overpower the taste of the pumpkin since I already made the chocolate crust; and I am glad I did. The prep is fairly easy, all you have to have is a bit of patience while you wait for the bars to set.  I would recommend making the bars the night before you plan on serving them, in order for them to firm.  

Ingredient List
For the crust:
20 chocolate wafer cookies
1 ½ packages of graham crackers (9oz)
2 tbs sugar
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted
For the filing:
2 pkgs bar cream cheese (8 oz, each)
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
3 tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp salt
*3 - 4 oz semisweet chocolate (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line bottom of 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.

In a food processor, blend cookies with sugar until finely ground (about 1 cup of crumbs); add butter, and pulse until moistened.

Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan, and press gently into bottom.  Bake until fragrant and slightly firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Place cream cheese in food processor; blend until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, flour, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; process until combined. Set aside.

*If using chocolate
Place chocolate in microwave safe bowl; microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each, until melted. Add 1 cup of the pumpkin mixture to the chocolate; stir to combine. Set aside.
Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into prepared pan.  Drop dollops of chocolate mixture onto pumpkin mixture; swirl. **To create swirls, drag the blade of a pairing knife through the chocolate & pumpkin mixtures several times to make a marbled pattern.**

Bake until cheesecake is set but jiggles slightly when gently shaken, about 40  to 50 minutes.

Cool in pan.  Cover; chill until firm, at least 2 hours (and up to 1 day). Using overhang, transfer cake to work surface. With a knife dipped in water, cut into squares. Serve.
Caitlin's Version
Monica's Version

You can choose to use either chocolate wafers, graham crackers or vanilla wafers to make your crust.

Depending on whether or not you add the chocolate, you can use between 2 to 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, according to your preference.


Caitlin: The latest Band of Horses, Infinite Arms.

Monica: The sweet sounds of the following songs were great to listen to while baking (and eating):

1)  "You Can't Hurry Love" The Supremes

2)  "Back on the Chain Gang" The Pretenders

3)  "I Want You Back" The Jackson 5

4)  "Here, There, and Everywhere" The Beatles (Anthology version)

5)  "Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth" Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Drink of Choice

Caitlin:  As with anything sweet, I generally prefer a bold flavored coffee. A great local favorite up here is Dutch Brothers - I suggest you try it if you're ever in the area.

Monica: I enjoyed my treat with a cup of Earl Grey tea (cream, no sugar).

A Recipe to Remember?
Definitely! We are keeping this one on file for the holiday season (great for cookie exchanges too)!

1 comment:

  1. I am going to try these for Thanksgiving. I love anything with chocolate in it!