By: Holley Grainger, MS, RD
Cooler temperatures, pumpkin-spiced everything and burnt orange leaves mean that the fall season is finally upon us. So let’s celebrate our favorite autumn flavor to the almighty PRODUCE-packed dessert: pumpkin cheesecake!
Now for those of you debating as to whether or not a pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable, it seems the experts on the web can’t agree either. On one hand, the organization Fruits & Vegetables: More Matters® clarifies that while from a botanist perspective it is a fruit, from a culinary perspective, it is considered a vegetable. SCORE! On the other hand, this piece from the Huffington Post insists that a pumpkin is now and forever will be a fruit (and to be even more specific, a berry).
To that I say, regardless of what it is or what you wish it would be, what matters to me is just how darn delicious it tastes when swirled into a rich and creamy cheesecake batter topped with a cinnamon graham cracker crust and baked into bite-sized bars. That’s why these Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are worthy of celebration on a day dedicated just to them.
Ready to make them but don’t have the ingredients you need? You can get all of these ingredients and other Halloween and fall essentials delivered directly to your door. Shipt has you covered!
Top Tips When Making Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars:
- Use parchment paper to line the pan allowing the sides to hang over for easy cheesecake removal.
- Use room temperature cream cheese making sure to let it sit out for a least an hour. (And, no, you shouldn’t microwave it to speed along the process.)
- Choose plain, unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling).
- Use a food processor to make both the crust and the filling. Make sure to wipe out the bowl and wash off the blade between steps.
- Top the graham cracker crust with the pumpkin cheesecake filling first.
- Dollop the plain cheesecake onto the pumpkin cheesecake before swirling.
- Use a toothpick, sharp knife or edge of the spatula to swirl making a figure 8 pattern.
- Store cheesecake bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- 8 sheets cinnamon graham crackers (about 1¼ cups crumbs)
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/8 teaspoons salt
- ¾ cup sugar, divided
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 (8-ounce) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
- Combine graham crackers, butter, salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in food processor bowl and pulse until combined. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the 8 x 8-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper. Rinse any remaining residue from food processor bowl and blade.
- Bake the crust until set, about 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- Combine cream cheese, ½ cup sugar and vanilla in a food processor bowl and process until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time, and beat until each is combined. Set aside 1 cup of the plain cheesecake mixture.
- Add 2 tablespoons sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice into the remaining cheesecake mixture; pulse until combined. Spread the pumpkin cheesecake over the prepared crust. Drop the plain cheesecake batter by heaping spoonfuls onto the top of the pumpkin cheesecake. Swirl with a toothpick or tip of a knife.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cheesecake has set. Allow to rest at room temperature on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing into bars and serving.