Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bars with White Chocolate Vanilla Swirl
These Pumpkin Pie cheesecake bars take a little bit of time to make, mostly because I want to give the pumpkin part of the cheesecake the most flavor. To do that, I cook the pumpkin puree down to concentrate the flavor, as well as add a bay leaf to the puree as I cook it, helping to give it a true Autumnal aroma. Adding the spices to the hot puree also helps release their flavor, making them sing in the cheesecake. Just be sure to use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling in this recipe.
Makes 24 bars
- 9 oz (250 g) speculoos cookies, otherwise known as Biscoff cookies or gingersnap cookies
- 2 tablespoons (28 g) brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 15 oz pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 bay leaf (fresh preferred but dried works)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (Grade B if possible)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 24 oz (three 8 oz bricks) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (150 g) white granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (35 g) all purpose flour
White Chocolate Vanilla Filling
- 4 oz white chocolate, chopped into 1/4 inch chunks
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan lightly with cooking spray, and then fit a piece parchment paper in the pan. Make the crust by crushing the cookies in a food processor, pulsing until the cookies are crumbs. Add the brown sugar and salt and pulse a few times to blend. Turn the processor on and drizzle the melted butter into the processor. Once all the butter is added, pulse the processor on and off until incorporated properly. Dump the crumbs into the lined pan. Distribute and press the crumbs with your hand to evenly spread over the bottom of the pan. Bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes, or until the crust smells fragrant and the edges of crust are have browned. Once baked, let cool on a wire rack and reduce the heat of the oven to 300˚F.
2. While the crust is baking, place the pumpkin puree and the bay leaf in a medium size pan. Cook the puree on medium heat, stirring constantly until the puree has reduced to 1 cup (roughly 10 minutes or so). Discard the bay leaf and stir in the maple syrup and spices. Let cool while making the cheesecake filling.
3. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about two minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate on medium speed, scraping down the sides between additions. Add the sugar and flour and beat to incorporate, scrape down the sides.
4. Melt the white chocolate by placing it in a metal bowl, over a pot of simmering water. Once melted, remove the bowl from the pot, let it cool for 1 minute and add 1/3 of the cheesecake batter. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds from the inside of the pod into the batter. Stir to incorporate the white chocolate and vanilla.
5. Add the cooled pumpkin puree to the remaining cheesecake batter and turn the mixer on to medium speed to incorporate. Once blended and uniform in color, scrape the batter onto the cookie crust and spread evenly with a butter knife or offset spatula. Spoon the white chocolate batter on top of the pumpkin puree in 12 individual spots. Using a butter knife, decoratively swirl the batters together by making figure 8 motions with the knife in the batter. Make sure that you reduce the oven to 300˚F (if you didn’t, reduce it now and let the oven temperature regulate before baking the cheesecake). Bake the bars for 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges of the cheesecake starts to look dry and golden but before it starts to crack. Let cool on a wire rack to room temperature, cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Cut the bars by lifting the parchment paper straight up from the pan and moving the entire pan of cheesecake to the cutting board.