Baked Sunday Mornings: Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Ah, fall. It's my favorite season of the year -- the crisp, clean air; the crunching of leaves underfoot; warm sweaters and cozy fleece; and, of course, pumpkin everything. I am a big fan of pumpkin baked goods, so much so that I always have canned pumpkin on hand; I even hoarded some during the massive canned pumpkin shortage in 2010. And since I had a few cans of Libby's in the cupboard, I decided to skip the step of making my own pumpkin puree for this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars.

These bars have a sweet pastry dough crust that you make in the food processor from flour, sugar, salt, cold butter, and an egg. After chilling the dough for at least an hour, you are supposed to roll it out and then transfer it into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. I just folded a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the pan, rolled out the dough directly on the paper, and then dropped the parchment and dough together into the pan.

You are supposed to blind bake the crust for 15 minutes with weights and an additional 10 minutes without; while the crust looked great when I removed the pie weights, after another 10 minutes in the oven the crust had shrunken noticeably (about 1/2-inch all the way around), and the corners were very dark and verging on burnt. If I were to make this again, I would leave the weights on for a longer period of time.

The pumpkin cheesecake filling is a mixture of cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and eggs. You pour the mixture on the crust and bake until puffy and set. Then after the bars are cooled and well chilled, you add a cream cheese frosting made from butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. After another brief chill, the bars are ready to cut and serve.

Because the crust had shrunk so much, I trimmed off all of the edges to get uniform bars with crust all the way around. While the corners and some of the edge pieces had a very dark crust (like the piece on the right in the photo above), pieces cut from the center of the pan had a light blond crust with almost no color at all (like the piece on the left in the photo). But the bars cut easily, the crust didn't fracture, and the filling and frosting were firm enough to maintain their shape.

I thought these bars were very tasty. The crust was nice and crisp (even the portions from the center of the pan that had not browned), and the pumpkin layer had just the right hint of spice. The cream cheese frosting was my favorite part by far -- it was rich, creamy, tangy, and luscious. As much as I liked these bars, they were not what I was expecting.

The predominant flavor of the bars was the cream cheese frosting, and the pumpkin seemed like an afterthought. I suppose I should have taken to heart the recipe headnote, which describes the bars as "a pumpkin kiss enveloped in a fluffy cream cheese cloud on top and classic sweet dough on the bottom." There really is just a "kiss" of pumpkin in these bars, so if you want maximum pumpkin flavor, these might not be the way to get your fix. But if you want to enjoy some amazing cream cheese frosting (and who doesn't?!), accompanied by the warm fall flavors of pumpkin and spice, dive right in!

Recipe: "Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars" from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.


I too love everything pumpkin!! I liked these bars a lot, though I made mine with a graham cracker crust instead. And yes, they could have been more pumpkin flavoured for sure. But still good. I am now thinking what next to make with my Libby's pumpkin. :o)
Susan said…
So sorry - you're linked up now! I'm glad you enjoyed this one.