Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
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Enjoy these show-stopping pumpkin cheesecake bars made with a lusciously smooth maple pumpkin filling and a thick graham cracker crust. They’re much easier to make than a whole cheesecake with a short baking time and no water bath necessary!
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Why you’ll love this recipe:
When you’re not in the mood to bake an entire maple pumpkin cheesecake but still want to enjoy all your favorite fall flavors, these handheld pumpkin cheesecake bars are the perfect option!
- Flavor – Ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg, and maple syrup complement the pumpkin flavor beautifully.
- Texture – An irresistibly creamy pumpkin cheesecake filling pairs with a buttery graham cracker crust. What’s not to love!?
- Easy – These are effortlessly impressive. After just a handful of simple steps, they’re ready to devour!
Key Ingredient Notes:
For the crust
- Graham cracker crumbs – Form the base of the crust. Make graham cracker crumbs by crushing graham crackers in a food processor into fine crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, place graham crackers in a large ziplock bag, and roll a rolling pin over them.
- Unsalted butter – This holds the graham cracker crust together and adds rich, savory flavor.
If you want to save time and make this pumpkin cheesecake bars recipe even easier, use pre-made graham cracker crumbs instead! You can typically find them in the baking section of your local grocery store.
For the filling
- Cream cheese – Make sure your cream cheese is soft. Otherwise, the filling will be lumpy instead of smooth. Use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese for the best texture. Definitely avoid low-fat and whipped cream cheese!
- Condensed milk – Sweetened condensed milk is a game changer for achieving a perfectly creamy and rich cheesecake filling. I use it in almost all of my cheesecake recipes!
- Maple syrup – Use 100% pure maple syrup, not the artificial stuff! Look for maple syrup labeled as Grade A, Medium, or Dark Amber to add a sweet, caramel-like flavor to the bars.
- Sugar – We add granulated sugar to enhance the sweetness even more.
- Egg – Leave your egg on the counter for about 30 minutes to bring it up to room temperature. Room temp eggs incorporate into the batter more easily and whip up into a lighter, smoother, and fluffier texture.
- Pumpkin purée – Use 100% pure pumpkin purée, not pumpkin pie mix.
- Cinnamon – Adds warm and cozy fall flavors.
- Nutmeg – Grate the nutmeg fresh, and toss your jarred stuff. Freshly grated nutmeg is so much stronger and aromatic. It’s one of my secret ingredients for outstanding fall desserts!
How to make this recipe:
Before you get started, preheat your oven to 350°F, and line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Leave foil hanging over the edges on two sides for easy removal after the bars are baked.
1. Make the crust
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a medium mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly, until the crumbs are evenly moistened with the butter.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan. Evenly spread it across the bottom of the pan, lightly pressing it down as you’re spreading.
- Chill the crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
2. Prepare the filling
- Beat the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, maple syrup, and sugar in a large mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until creamy.
- Add the egg, vanilla extract, and salt, and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until it’s well combined.
- Transfer half of the cream cheese mixture to a separate medium-sized bowl, and set it aside.
- Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat the ingredients on medium-high speed until well combined.
3. Bake the pumpkin cheesecake bars
- Spoon both mixtures into the prepared baking pan with the graham cracker crust using a large cookie scoop. Spoon the mixtures in an alternating pattern.
- Swirl the two mixtures with a large skewer. If bubbles form, tap on the counter a few times to release them.
- Bake the cheesecake for 25-28 minutes in your preheated oven. You’ll know it’s down when the edges are set but the cheesecake filling is still slightly wobbly in the center!
- Cool the cheesecake bars to room temperature. Then, refrigerate them for at least two hours, or until they’re fully set in the middle.
Tips for Success:
- Evenly press the crust into the pan using the back of a silicone spatula or the bottom of a measuring cup.
- For perfectly smooth bars, beat the cream cheese until no lumps remain. Otherwise, you’ll end up with lumpy bars. Bringing your cream cheese and egg up to room temperature helps too!
- Don’t overmix the filling. Overmixing allows too much air into the filling, which leads to cracks during baking.
- Avoid sudden temperature changes. Big temperature changes are another reason cheesecake filling cracks. Letting the pumpkin cheesecake bars cool to room temperature before placing them in the refrigerator is crucial.
- Slice the bars cleanly using a hot kitchen knife. Dip your cutting knife in hot water, dry it off, and run it through the cold cheesecake bars. Repeat this process as needed until all the bars are sliced.
- Add toppings such as a drizzle of caramel sauce or a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Pumpkin cheesecake bars are one of the best make-ahead desserts.
- Store cheesecake bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- They’ll stay fresh for up to 5 days if stored properly.
- Prevent the bars from sticking together when stacked in a container by placing a sheet of parchment paper between the layers.
Yes, you can freeze these bars for up to one month! To do so, wrap the cut squares tightly in plastic wrap, and transfer them to a sealable freezer bag. To enjoy, let your bars thaw in the fridge overnight.
A water bath is a baking method that bakes cheesecake evenly and gently. A water bath can guarantee a perfectly smooth cheesecake that isn’t overcooked, gummy, or too brown on top. Cheesecake bars don’t require a water bath, because they’re thinner and have a shorter baking time, meaning they’re a lot easier to make!
If your pumpkin cheesecake bars cracked, you may have overmixed the filling or exposed the bars to sudden temperature changes. Bringing your egg and any other dairy ingredients up to room temperature will also help prevent cracks.
More Cheesecake Recipes:
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
For the crust:
- 2/3 cup (80 g) graham cracker crumbs Note 1
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
For the filling:
- 8 oz (225 g) cream cheese softened
- ½ cup (175 g) sweetened condensed milk Note 2
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) pure maple syrup Note 3
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (110 g) pure pumpkin puree
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving two sides hanging over the edges.
- In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Mix until the crumbs are evenly moistened with butter.2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Transfer the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Evenly spread it, lightly pressing into the pan. Chill in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
- In a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, maple syrup and sugar on medium high speed until creamy.8 oz cream cheese, ½ cup sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Add the egg, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat the mixture on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes.1 large egg, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Transfer half of the cream cheese mixture into a medium bowl.
- Add pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the mixing bowl with the remaining cream cheese mixture. Beat it on medium high speed until well combined.½ cup pure pumpkin puree, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Using a large cookie scoop, spoon both mixtures in an alternating pattern into the prepared cookie crust. Swirl the two mixtures with a skewer. Tap on the counter a few times to release the bubbles.
- Bake the cheesecake until it’s set on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center, for 25-28 minutes.
- Cool the cheesecake to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into 16 squares, before serving. (TIP: For easy and clean cuts, run the knife under hot tap water to warm it up and wipe it clean with a damp paper towel in between slices.)
- Store in the fridge, covered, for up to 5 days.
Tips & Notes
– Store leftover bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To prevent them from sticking togeher, place a sheet of parchment paper between each bar or layer of bars!
– Pumpkin cheesecake bars freeze well! Wrap each bar tightly in plastic wrap, transfer them to a sealable bag, and freeze for up to 1 month.
– To serve, allow your bars to thaw in the fridge overnight, and enjoy cold.