When I came across this recipe for pumpkin cheesecake bars, I knew nothing else would do. Not Starbucks’ pumpkin cream cheese loaf nor any other kind of cheesecake or pumpkin bread, not even store-bought pumpkin cheesecake. I craved the homemade version.
I feel better about consuming desserts that I’ve made myself because I am in control of the ingredients. Which is always important, but especially when there’s a growing babe who also gets a piece.
When I went to Trader Joe’s and discovered they were out of canned pumpkin but stocked in pumpkin cheesecake itself, I hesitated. Would I forget about the bars? Would I succumb to the store-bought version, inflated with sugar and who knows how many days old and not precisely what I wanted?
Nope, I didn’t. (I’ll save that for later in the season.) I bought a sugar pie pumpkin and cut it and roasted it and peeled it and pureed it in the food processor. Though time consuming, the end result would be more of what I wanted: fresh pumpkin-y goodness. And even better, I wouldn’t have to worry about BPA leeching from the can into my dessert. But God, opening a can would have been so much easier. Sometimes I wonder if convenience has the power to kill us.
Anyways. I modified the recipe to include less processed sugar and more nutrition. In the crust, I replaced the sugar with medjool dates and the flour with coconut flour, ground flaxseed, almond meal and whole wheat flour. In the filling, I used raw turbinado sugar and the flesh of 1 pie pumpkin instead of a 15 ounce can of pumpkin. I doubled the vanilla extract because I felt like it.
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Adapted from Pinchmysalt.com – a sweet food blog so click over!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9×13 pan with aluminum foil, leaving enough to hang over the sides of pan. Coat foil with butter or oil.
2/3 cup whole wheat flour (I like white wheat for it’s mild flavor)
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup almond meal
6 medjool dates, pitted
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar
flesh of one pie pumpkin (quartered, roasted at 375 until soft, peeled and pureed well)
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
Make the crust: Combine flours, dates, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour crust mixture into prepared pan and press evenly and firmly into the bottom.
Bake crust on the center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until just starting to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and set on wire rack.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and raw turbinado sugar until creamy. Add pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice and beat until well combined, scraping sides and bottom of bowl a few times as you go. Pour pumpkin mixture over the pre-baked crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool completely on a wire rack then refrigerate for an hour or until thoroughly chilled. To serve, use the foil to remove the entire dessert, then slice into squares. Leftovers should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Note: I am not a food photographer nor a food stylist. While I greatly appreciate this art, it eludes me. If you’d like to see a pretty picture of these bars, go here.