Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar Shortbread Crust

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar Shortbread Crust

I woke up this morning thinking about making pumpkin pie bars.  I’ve never made anything quite like this before, but Phil has been asking for pumpkin pie for a month now and I’m one of those people who only bakes pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  To me it just seems wrong to eat it any other day of the year.  But these are slightly different than pumpkin pie and they satisfied his craving without me having to break tradition. 

I’m calling these pumpkin cheesecake bars because they are made with cream cheese, but the texture and flavor is much closer to pumpkin pie than cheesecake.  If you don’t love pumpkin pie, you won’t love these.  But if you do, you should probably make these really soon.  Like tonight.

I used my food processor and stand mixer for this recipe, which means cleanup was a bit more intensive than I like, but you could easily do this without either of those machines.

The buttery brown sugar shortbread crust pairs really well with the pumpkin cream cheese filling.  Pre-baking the crust helps it stay nice and crisp, unlike pumpkin pie crust which has a tendency to sog up a bit.  Use the best butter you can find in the crust – I used Kerrygold and the flavor was outstanding.

I had planned on delivering half of these to the painters who have been working at the new house but as of this afternoon the virus that has been threatening to take me down for the past week is finally winning.  So, I decided to stay home rather than spread it around.  Anyone else dealing with body aches and a headache that makes you feel as if your head might actually explode?  I guess I’d better stop baking desserts and put a pot of chicken soup on the stove instead.

Pumpkin Pie Bars
Filling adapted from: Kraft Recipes Pumpkin Pie Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 9×13 pan with aluminum foil, leaving enough to hang over the sides of pan.  Coat foil with cooking/baking spray.

Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 15-oz can of pure pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Make the crust:  Combine flour, sugar, 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 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.

Recipe notes:  If you choose to use salted butter rather than unsalted, omit salt in the recipe.  I tested this recipe with kosher salt. If you use table salt, use a little less than 1/4 teaspoon.  If you want to avoid using the food processor, cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives.  Or just cut it into small pieces and rub it into the flour with your fingertips.

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16 Comments
  1. Sarah

    I was just wondering what to take to a lunch thing next week…..and now I know!

    5:21 pm  Nov 13th, 2012
  2. Becca Cole

    Amazing – yet another awesome pumpkin recipe for me to try!

    6:54 pm  Nov 13th, 2012
  3. amanda

    get that pot of chicken noodle soup on! i tried pour some of the batch i made last week into the cable but the outcome was slightly regrettable. ;) feel better soon! (and send me some of those damn bars… or at least a can of pumpkin so i can make them. can’t get pumpkin here.)

    6:59 pm  Nov 13th, 2012
  4. Olivia @ Liv Lives Life

    Ummmmm brown sugar shortbread crust? YES PLEASE!

    7:01 pm  Nov 13th, 2012
  5. roz

    I just love both pumpkin and shortbread! What a perfect combo for this season of thanksgiving and autumn!

    8:21 pm  Nov 13th, 2012
  6. Julia | JuliasAlbum.com

    I made something like this last month, with pumpkin puree though, not pumpkin spice. Your cheesecake bars look very appetizing! Great photos! Found your blog through another blog that’s doing NaBloPoMo this month – which is what I am doing as well :)

    11:50 pm  Nov 13th, 2012
  7. Phillip

    These are seriously delicious. There’s just the perfect slight amount of salt to complement the sweet, and the crust is soooo good. I think I like these even better than pumpkin pie. I need more. MORE, I SAY!

    11:56 pm  Nov 13th, 2012
  8. Mila

    Awesome! By pure luck I just picked up all of these things on my last shopping trip!

    5:24 pm  Nov 14th, 2012
  9. Lil

    This sounds yummy, but I was wondering what size of canned pumpkin did you use?

    6:40 pm  Nov 14th, 2012
  10. Nicole

    Lil - Just a regular 15-oz can, not the large one. Thanks for asking… I’ll update the recipe now!

    8:33 pm  Nov 14th, 2012
  11. Riley

    I saw these on FPD yesterday, and they look so delicious! Perfect for Thanksgiving!

    9:29 am  Nov 15th, 2012
  12. Christy@SweetandSavoring

    What a great concept! I thought my sister was the queen of bars, but she’s never heard of these either. Can’t wait to try the recipe :)

    8:58 pm  Nov 15th, 2012
  13. Audrey

    Never thought to put the flavors of shortbread, pumpkin, and cheesecake together! But they are all so delicious, this recipe hits it right on the head!

    2:19 pm  Nov 18th, 2012
  14. Jon

    My wife made these over the weekend and they are outstanding. Thanks for a great recipe!

    7:11 am  Nov 18th, 2013
  15. Hilary

    I look forward to making these! Hopefully my immune system will kick the but of whatever virus *I* have that is making me feel like my head will explode. Not sure how you manage to cook sick. All I can manage right now is soup and tea.

    2:58 pm  Nov 27th, 2013
  16. Kait

    Have you had any luck making these in advance and freezing them?

    12:31 pm  Dec 8th, 2013
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