I’ve always liked pumpkin.
I like the way it tastes. I like the way it looks. And most of all, I like the season that it’s associated with: fall.
The world just looks better at this time of year, you know? The colors, the weather, the way you can see your breath in the morning but still take your sweater off in the afternoon.
This October, I’ve seen the leaves change color and fall in Washington, Ohio, and Illinois. I’ve sipped hot apple cider and walked on piles of crunchy leaves; I’ve felt the crisp air and slept with the windows open. It’s been beautiful.
Even though the days are darker as we edge closer to winter, I have to tell you: I love fall.
All that autumnal affection has to get channeled somewhere, and I’m happy to tell you I’ve found the place. That’s where a ton of pumpkin recipes come in.
Because, listen: pumpkin is to recipes what fall is to the calendar. When I make something with pumpkin, it’s like I’m eating pure fall, and I like that.
And these pumpkin cheesecake bars are like autumn on the tongue.
Velvety and creamy, these bars start with a thick graham cracker crust and finish with a pumpkin filling that’s as rich as your typical New York style cheesecake.
You’re supposed to let them chill before slicing, but just between us, I had a piece right out of the oven when it was still warm and golden, and it was quite nice.
The next day, I ate another piece, chilled, for breakfast — because it’s October after all, and I might as well
eat get the most out of it.
If you find yourself indoors on one of these beautiful evenings, away from the colors and the leaves and the chill in the air, I sincerely hope it’s because you’re making this recipe, or something else like it that features pumpkin, the best flavor of the harvest time, enjoyed in the season that I wish wouldn’t end.Print
Looking for a simple seasonal dessert? Dive face first into a pan full of the best spiced pumpkin cheesecake bars.
For the Crust:
- 7 graham crackers (about 1/3 pound in weight)
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
- 1 package cream cheese, softened (8 ounces)
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 cup canned or homemade pureed pumpkin
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9-inch square pan.
To Make the Crust:
- Break the crackers into a food processor. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon, and process into a fine meal.
- Add the melted butter and process again. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the buttered pan and slightly up the sides to form a crust.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325˚F.
To Make the Filling:
- In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugars, egg, and egg yolk with an electric mixer. Add vanilla and stir.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 45 minutes. The edges should be golden brown and the filling should be slightly jiggly, but not wet in the center.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before slicing and serving.
Keywords: pumpkin puree, cheesecake, fall recipes, cinnamon, graham crackers
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Melt Butter, Soften Cream Cheese, and Measure Remaining Ingredients
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave in 15-second increments.
Remove the cream cheese from its packaging and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave for 15-20 seconds to soften.
Measure all of the other ingredients and set out in the order listed.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
Step 2 – Make Crust
Pour in the melted butter and process again until all of the crumbs are moistened. Press into the prepared baking pan evenly on the bottom and slightly up the sides.
Step 3 – Bake Crust
Bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and fragrant.
Remove from the oven to cool. After a few minutes, I like to set a trivet or hot pad in the freezer and place the pan on it to chill while I make the filling.
Reduce oven temperature to 325˚F.
Step 4 – Make Filling
Add the softened cream cheese, sugars, egg, and egg yolk to a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine.
Stir in the vanilla until combined.
Add the remaining filling ingredients and stir together until smooth.
Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the filling into the crust. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula if you need to.
Step 5 – Bake Filling
Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the filling is set. The center will still be slightly jiggly.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Step 6 – Chill and Slice
Once cooled, chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before slicing into 9 bars.
You can also choose to slice these bars into smaller sizes if you prefer, for snacking.
Need More Pumpkin Inspiration?
If you just can’t get enough pumpkin and you still want more (and who could blame you?), we have plenty of delicious recipes right here on Foodal.
For some of my personal favorites that are a little more on the savory side, check out the following:
- For an appetizer, hummus is a fantastic dip to indulge in. It’s a great snack to satisfy your hunger, and the crunch of pumpkin seeds on top is a delightful variation from the norm.
- I recently made a big batch of curried soup featuring this ingredient, and it is silky, smooth deliciousness with every spoonful. It’s rich in flavor while also being light enough that you don’t feel guilty (or stuffed) after eating a bowlful.
- If you want something more hearty, Asian-style curry is a simple one-pot weeknight dinner that you will love with this squash. Spoon it on top of rice, and you have a fall dinner that’s hearty, rich, and big on flavor.
What is your favorite way to eat pumpkin during the fall season? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe for this delightful dessert once you try it!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on October 21, 2010. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu. Last updated: November 4, 2018 at 9:55 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.