A pumpkin spice celebration for cheesecake lovers


PHOTO CREDIT: SYSTEM

For a Thanksgiving Day twist, consider these decadent dessert options.

Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake Bars, with Streusel Topping

Crust

• 1½ cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs

• ¼ cup white sugar

• 1 tablespoon brown sugar

• 6 tablespoons melted butter

Cheesecake

• 2 8-ounce packages full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (leave out at least one hour)

• ½ cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

• 2 large eggs

• ½ cup + 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin

(not pumpkin pie filling)

• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Streusel and topping

• ½ cup brown sugar, packed

• ¼ cup quick-cooking oats

• ½ cup white flour

• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

• ¼ cup butter, softened

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• Salted or plain caramel sauce for topping the bars

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper (leave an overhang to be able to pull out bars easily) and set aside.

In a bowl, combine crust ingredients and mix until “dough” forms. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake 8 minutes.

For streusel, using the same bowl as the crust, stir together brown sugar, white flour, oats and cinnamon. Add in butter and vanilla. Mix until combined. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat with mixer until smooth and creamy. Add in eggs one at a time. Beat until combined.

Remove 1½ cups of mixture. Pour over crust.

Add canned pumpkin, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice to remaining cheesecake mixture and stir until combined.

Pour the pumpkin layer on top of the plain layer. Top with streusel. Bake 30 minutes or until cake is set.

Allow to cool for about an hour. Refrigerate an additional 1-2 hours before serving. Top each bar with caramel.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Crust

• 10½ ounces gingersnap cookies

• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

• ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted

Filling

• 1½ pounds cream cheese, room temperature

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• ½ cup light brown sugar

• 6 large eggs

• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

• 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

• 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

(not pumpkin pie filling)

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease

9-by-13-inch pan, line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.

Make the crust: In the food processor, pulse cookies until fine crumbs form . Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, stir in sugar and salt. Add melted butter and mix until evenly incorporated. Press crust into even layer in the base of pan.

Bake until the crust has browned slightly and appears set, 10-12 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Make the filling: Clean food processor bowl and place cream cheese, sugar and brown sugar inside. Pulse until fully combined. Add eggs one at a time, pulsing until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Add vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Pulse until combined. Reserve 1 cup cheesecake batter in small bowl for making a swirl effect.

Add pumpkin to remaining cheesecake batter, pulse until fully incorporated. Pour pumpkin cheesecake batter into cooled crust. Pour reserved white cheesecake batter over the pan in a slow, thin stream. Use a toothpick to swirl.

Bake until edges appear set and center appears slightly jiggly, 35-40 minutes. Cool at room temperature for 45 minutes, then refrigerate until firm. Use a knife to release edges and use parchment paper to lift cheesecake from pan. Transfer to cutting board and slice.

Amy Drew Thompson writes for The Orlando Sentinel.

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