Not long ago, one of my clients asked me to make homemade pumpkin cheesecake. To be honest, to go to all that work and then have your dinner guests say, “I really want just a bite,” or, “just cut me a sliver,” drives me crazy. So my solution is to make cheesecake bars. Once cut into small squares they are the perfect portion size! Plus, if you’re not watching calories, you could probably have two and still feel “guilt-free.” This is a great recipe for a potluck or BBQ!
Homemade Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
What I love about these homemade cheesecake bars is how easy they are to make. It doesn’t take hours to bake and cool and you don’t need a special pan, just a rectangle Pyrex dish that almost everyone has tucked in their kitchen cabinet. Here is the recipe I started with from Chef Gayle Gand and the Food Network:
For the cheesecake layer:
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 9 ounces cream cheese
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- 3 Tablespoons flour
For the pumpkin layer:
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whip attachment, cream the butter. Then add the cream cheese and continue mixing. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and flour. Set aside.
To make the pumpkin layer, in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), mix the pumpkin puree and eggs until well blended. Add the sugars and mix. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until blended.
Line a 9 by 13 rectangular pan with parchment so that the parchment covers the bottom, sides and hangs over the edges of the pan. The over hanging parchment will be the ‘handles’ that will help you remove the bars once cooked and cooled. Spread the cream cheese layer evenly in the parchment-lined pan and bake for 25 minutes. It should be 3/4 to 1-inch thick. Pour the pumpkin layer over the cream cheese layer and continue cooking another 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan to room temperature, then refrigerate. Cut into bars. Serve cold.
Note about the recipe: It’s like having pumpkin pie with whipped cream, only the “cream” is on the bottom
Adding The Dinner Diva Spin
I like put my own spin on many of my recipes, and this one is no exception. Here are a few of my own suggestions:
- You will notice that Chef Gand’s recipe does not have a crust as in traditional cheesecake. I wanted to that have that extra crunchy texture, so I borrowed the idea from Celebrity Chef Giada DeLaurentis and used Italian biscotti cookies instead of graham crackers to make a bottom crust and added a small amount of marscapone cheese to my second layer of the cheesecake bars (directions below).
- Take note that a standard package of cream cheese is 8 ounces, not 9 as called for in this recipe. You could buy another package of cream cheese and save the remaining amount for another use OR you could add 1 ounce of marscapone cheese (2 Tablespoons) to the batter instead, as I did. I just happened to have it on hand in my fridge for another recipe.
- In my version there are three layers instead of two: a cookie crust on the bottom, then the cream cheese and finally the layer of spiced pumpkin.
For the crust:
I used 3 ounces of crushed biscotti cookies, 3 ounces of ginger snaps and 5 Tablespoons of melted butter. Pulse several times in a food processor or mini chopper. Combine well, press into the bottom of your prepared pan & bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven. Then follow the recipe above.
Download and print the recipe here.
If you love chocolate and raspberries, here is another recipe for homemade cheesecake bars that was my inspiration for my version of the pumpkin cheesecake bars.
What flavors do you like on your cheesecake? What varieties have you come across that have inspired you to try a new combination?
Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.