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Pumpkin pie cheesecake bars

Updated: Oct 2

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, however I'm not the biggest pumpkin fan - I don’t always love all of the pumpkin spice and standard pumpkin desserts. I love using pumpkin and pumpkin spice to create new desserts that even a pumpkin skeptic will love, and this pumpkin pie cheesecake bar is the next installment!

The crust is a buttery and sweet graham cracker crust that comes together in a pinch, and the pumpkin cheesecake filling is creamy and sweet with just the right amount of pumpkin flavor. Then you’ll top your cheesecake bars with a whpuite chocolate and cinnamon ganache. You could of course opt for some simple whipped cream (I tried this too and it was delicious!), but I love the sweetness and texture of the ganache topping and we finish it off with some crushed graham cracker!


I highly recommend using a stand or hand mixer for your cheesecake filling, and it's extremely important that all of your cheesecake filling ingredients are at room temperature. I usually take my cream cheese out about an hour or two ahead of when I plan to start, and my eggs and heavy cream about 30 minutes ahead. You'll soften your cream cheese to start, so if it's a little too cold this step will help, and the power of a hand or stand mixer will ensure you don't have any unmixed cream cheese pockets as you continue to add in your ingredients.


In this recipe, we use pumpkin spice for the cheesecake filling. Pumpkin spice is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves - I use a premixed pumpkin spice from Simply Organic, you can get it on Amazon or from a Whole Foods store, and many other stores or places online. You can also make the mixture at home if you choose with a mixture of those spices, but you should be able to find a premixed pumpkin spice at your local store.


For the white chocolate ganache topping, I used Valrhona brand white chocolate. I also love the white chocolate from Ghirardelli and it can be a bit easier to find, and more cost effective. I chose to use cinnamon in the topping, but if you want an extra punch of pumpkin spice, you could swap that in instead.

Ingredients:

Graham cracker crust

  • 10 graham cracker sheets, crushed 150g

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 12g

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 85g

Cheesecake filling

  • 16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar 127g

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 48g

  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ganache topping

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

  • 2/3 cup (4 oz) white chocolate

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin spice)

  • 1/2 graham cracker sheet 8g


Total time: About 5 hours Prep time: About 30 minutes Bake time: 30-35 minutes

Chill time: 4 hours


Equipment:

  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment (or hand mixer)

  • Spatula

  • 9x9 square pan (or 8x8)

  • Parchment paper

  • Large plastic bag or food processor, for crust

  • Whisk or spoon, for topping

  • Small pot or microwave safe bowl, for topping


Cooking instructions: If you haven't already, remove all of your refrigerated cheesecake filling ingredients from the fridge - cream cheese, eggs, and heavy cream. Note that your cream cheese will need more time to come to room temperature than your eggs and heavy cream.


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

First, make your graham cracker crust. Place your 10 graham cracker sheets into a plastic bag and use the back of a pan, flat tool, or even a rolling pin (this is what I often use) to crush them to a powder. If you have a food processor, you can also use that instead, but I find it easy to crush the graham cracker small enough using the plastic bag method. Into a medium sized bowl, add your crushed graham cracker, salt, and brown sugar and toss to combine. Melt your butter and add it into your dry mixture. Use a spoon or spatula to combine and bind the butter with your dry ingredients.


Line a 9x9in square pan (or you can use an 8x8 pan if that's what you have) with parchment paper. Pour your graham cracker crust mixture into your lined pan and use the back of a spoon or a flat tool (like a measuring cup) to press the graham cracker down evenly. Place your pan into the fridge.

Meanwhile, make your cheesecake filling. Into your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add your cream cheese. Turn your mixer on at a medium to high speed for 1-2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of your bowl and the paddle attachment. Add in your sugars and pumpkin spice, and then turn your mixer back on to a high speed for another 2 minutes. Next, add in your pumpkin puree and heavy cream. Turn your mixer back on at a medium speed for another minute. Pause and scrape down the sides of your bowl and paddle attachment, and be sure to reach down to the bottom of the bowl.


Then, add in your eggs and vanilla extract. Turn your mixer back on at a low to medium speed for another minute. Scrape down the sides of your bowl, paddle attachment, and the bottom of your bowl and then turn your mixer back on at a low to medium speed for another minute or two until fully combined and smooth. Pour your cheesecake mixture over your chilled graham cracker crust and spread smooth with a spatula or flat tool. Place your cheesecake into the oven for 30-35 minutes. You do not want to over bake your cheesecake bars, so I recommend taking a peek a few minutes before you hit the 30 minute mark. You'll know it's done when you shake your pan and the cheesecake still jiggles but is set around the edges. Once fully baked, allow your cheesecake bars to cool for about an hour or so at room temperature.


Then, make your ganache topping and serve your bars. Place your chilled cheesecake bars into the fridge to chill a bit more while you make your topping.


Measure your white chocolate, and chop if needed, then place into a heatproof bowl. In a small pot, add your heavy cream over a medium heat - this can also be carefully done in the microwave. You want to heat your cream just until you start to see wisps of steam rise and then remove from the heat. Pour your heated heavy cream over your white chocolate and let it sit for about a minute.


Use a whisk or a spoon to quickly stir your ganache mixture until it's completely smooth. Sprinkle in your cinnamon and continue to mix until it's evenly dispersed. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.


Pour your white chocolate ganache over the top of your chilled cheesecake bars and spread across if needed. Hand crush half of a graham cracker sheet and sprinkle it over the top of your ganache. Place your bars back into the fridge to chill and set for 2 to 3 hours prior to slicing. For the cleanest slice, you can also place into the freezer for a few hours prior to slicing.

When you're ready to slice, you can remove your cheesecake from the pan or slice in the pan. Slice into 16 squares and enjoy!


You can store your sliced, or unsliced, cheesecake in the fridge for about 4 to 5 days in an airtight container. You can also wrap individual slices and place into an airtight container or plastic bag and into the freezer to eat any time! I think they taste great just out of the freezer, but I usually give them about 10 minutes at room temperature before enjoying. My favorite way to enjoy this cheesecake is from the fridge so that the texture remains extra creamy, but they freeze really well too and this is the best way to extend the life of the cheesecake. If you want to bake these bars ahead to serve for the holidays, I recommend baking the cheesecake bars and freezing unsliced and without the topping. Then, you can make the white chocolate ganache the day you're ready to serve, top your baked cheesecake bars and defrost the pumpkin pie cheesecake bars in the fridge while your topping sets.

Carb and serving info:

Carbs per serving (1 of 16): 27 Carbs for full recipe: 438


Carbs from topping in full recipe: 81 Carbs from graham crackers in crust: 120

Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.

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