Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A slice of classic cheesecake is one of those desserts that takes nicely to added flavors and tinkering. If you love both pumpkin pie and cheesecake, these creamy bars are the perfect hybrid. There's a sturdy graham cracker crust on the bottom, then a layer of classic white cheesecake, and finally a delicate pumpkin cheesecake layer fragrant with cinnamon and pumpkin pie spices. One pan makes a lot of bars that you can take to your next party or potluck; I promise the pan will come home empty.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars: Watch the Video

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

One Filling, Two Flavors

While two layers of cheesecake may seem complicated, all you have to do is make one batch of filling, put half of it on the crust, then add pumpkin and spices to the remaining filling. These is a great make-ahead dessert because the bars need time to both cool and chill, so it's best made the day ahead.

One 9x13-inch baking pan makes 24 cheesecake bars, but you can also cut each of them in half to get 48 bars that take about two to three bites to eat. And best of all, these bars freeze beautifully — just cut them, freeze solid on a baking sheet, and then transfer to an airtight container. Thaw in a single layer in the refrigerator and cheesecake nirvana is yours to be had in just about 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Makes 24 bars

For the crust:
14 whole graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces, or 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 7 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the cheesecake layers:
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Make the crust: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 325°F. Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper, then coat with butter or cooking spray; set aside.

Place the graham cracker pieces in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process into fine, even crumbs, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar, drizzle with the butter, and pulse to combine. (If using graham cracker crumbs, just mix together with the sugar and butter in a bowl.) Sprinkle the mixture into the baking dish and press into an even layer with the bottom of a measuring cup.

Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Place on a wire rack while you make the filling.

Make the filling: Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar and salt until incorporated, about 1 minute more. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs 1 at a time, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Dollop 3 1/2 cups of the mixture onto the crust and spread into an even layer; set aside.

Add the pumpkin purée, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves to the remaining filling and beat on low speed just until smooth and combined. Carefully dollop the pumpkin filling over the cheesecake layer and spread into an even layer.

Bake until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly, 40 to 50 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Using the foil, remove the cheesecake slab from the pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into 24 pieces and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. They can also be wrapped well in aluminum foil and frozen for up to 3 months. Let sit uncovered at room temperature until thawed, about 30 minutes.
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