Friday, November 11, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares

Are you sick of pumpkin yet?  I'm not.  Pumpkin is one of those things that most people either love or hate.  I fall into the first category.  As much as I like pumpkin, I only cook with it in the fall.  Thanksgiving is the end of pumpkin season for me.  Earlier this week I made penne with a pumpkin sage sauce for dinner.  I used some canned pumpkin to make the sauce leaving me with a cup of pumpkin to either use, or let it sit in the fridge for the week and eventually end up in the compost bin.  A cup of pumpkin usually finds its way into a small batch of muffins, but I was feeling somewhat adventurous and decided to do something different.
Last weekend I pulled out an old cookbook that I hadn't opened in years.  It was like visiting with an old friend.  It's called The Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Epse Brown.  I acquired this book back in the '70s after visiting the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in the Los Padres National Forrest in California.  This was one of my first cookbooks and I read it cover to cover.  It's a well used paperback, filled with my notes and ratings for each recipe I've tried.  I know in the months to come I will revisit some of my old favorites and spread the love.  I took a mental note to revisit the Cheesecake Cookie this holiday season.

I decided to use that Cheesecake Cookie recipe as the inspiration for my Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares.  I strayed quite a bit from the original recipe mostly because I had some graham crackers that I wanted to use up and I needed to incorporate the pumpkin into the recipe.  The results were quite pleasing.  They are worthy of any holiday dessert table!
Easy as... ONE
Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares
Click here for printable page

Inspired by Cheesecake Cookies,  The Tassajara Bread Book 
Makes 24 squares


  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (1 section from a box of crackers)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped in a food processor 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened (low-fat works fine)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease ( I use a touch of butter) a 9 x13 pan.
  3. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, walnuts,  brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in a bowl.
  4. Press into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the prepared pan.
  5. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. (don't allow to brown)
  6. While crust is baking, make the filling.  Using a mixer, combine cream cheese with sugar.  Beat until smooth.
  7. Add beaten eggs, milk and vanilla.  Mix until smooth and well combined.
  8. Remove one cup of the filling mixture and set aside.
  9. To the remaining mixture, add the pumpkin, honey, brown sugar and spices.  Mix until blended.
  10. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the baked crust.
  11. Spoon the reserved (plain) filling on top of the pumpkin filling.  
  12. Swirl the plain filling into the pumpkin filling.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Filling will slightly puff and not jiggle when it is done.
  14. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 2 inch squares.
  15. If you are not serving them as soon as they have cooled, store in the refrigerator.

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