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Still Craving Pumpkin? Add Cream Cheese.

December 31, 2010

I wasn’t planning to post this recipe. It was a last minute substitute for the glorious cake I hope to make last week. My roommate and I held a Holiday Dessert Party and I wanted to dazzle my friends with something extravagant. Layers of chocolate cake, ganache, salted caramel. Alas, my week filled up to the brim and I was forced to go with something a little less time consuming.

I still wanted to make something truly scrumptious, though, and I knew cheesecake would be a crowd-pleaser. Just because Thanksgiving is a month behind us, pumpkin hardly belongs on the back-burner. Heck, I still have three jumbo cans waiting to be used! Luckily, I’m a huge fan of pumpkin and have a stockpile of pumpkin recipes waiting to be tried. This was not one of them. This was a whim.

But I just ate my fifth piece of these Pumpkin Cheesecake bars and had to seriously restrain myself from scarfing that last piece tonight. You shouldn’t be eating that, the little voice in my head said. You should just throw it in the trash so you can’t tempt yourself. I can’t do that, though. They’re just too darn delicious.

This recipe was adapted from two different recipes in my Bon Appetit Desserts book: Pumpkin Cheesecake with Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping and Gingersnap Crust, and Pumpkin Cheesecake Crumble Squares. I wanted my cheesecake in bar form, but that gingersnap crust sounded too good to pass by. It was an excellence decision to combine the two ideas. That crust was still crisp on the piece I ate tonight, even after spending a week in my fridge. I think this will be my go-to crust recipe for all future pumpkin pies. As for the filling, it was creamy, tangy and rich, and didn’t suffer at all from my use of reduced fat cream cheese. The sour cream topping was just icing on the (cheese)cake. I loved the layers of this dessert, and I only wish I’d taken better pictures to share with you!

Don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients. This is a very easy dish to put together and quick to prepare. More time is spent waiting patiently for it to bake and cool!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

© Copyright 2010 Carly Sullivan, Tart to Heart



  • 2 cups gingersnap crumbs
  • 1 cup ground toasted pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted


  • 2 8-oz packages reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • 1 1/2 cups reduced fat sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the crust, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until the crumbs are fully moistened with the melted butter. Press firmly into an even layer in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake until set (the top should feel a bit dry), about 15 minutes. Remove and let stand while you prepare the filling.
  2. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar together in your mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin and beat well to incorporate (be sure to scrape down the sides of your bowl a few times during this process.
  3. Add in the flour, spices, vanilla and salt and mix to combine. Pour the filling over the crust. Bake until the top is dry and the center is set, about 40 minutes (give it a shake to check– the center should barely jiggle when cooked). Remove from the oven and let stand while you prepare the topping.
  4. For the topping, whisk together the sour cream, sugars, and vanilla until smooth. Spread evenly over the filling and return to the oven until the topping sets and is bubbly around the edges, around 5-10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely before serving.
  5. Once cool, sprinkle with cinnamon and raw sugar (optional, but pretty). Use a warm knife to cut into 24 squares, being sure to cut through the entire crust. Carefully remove from pan and serve!

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