Just in time for Thanksgiving! This year, we decided to stray a little from the norm of pumpkin and sweet potato pies and try our hand at adding a little something modern to the traditional.
I’ve had a craving for cheesecake ever since the Japanese style cheesecake revolution has hit Toronto. Anyone else seen those line for Uncle Tetsu’s!? So why not try making our own!
First decision: what to do for the crust? With so many variations out there, I wanted to choose one that was a sure crowd pleaser yet difficult to mess up.
- Traditional pie crust: Although a sure crowd pleaser, the thought of chilling and rolling dough seemed like too much effort. Plus, we’re trying to add some uniqueness to the tradition! This is just sticking with tradition.
- Graham cracker crumb crust: Again, a sure crowd pleaser. Just unsure of how this will hold up against the rich cheesecake filling.
- Shortbread crust: Easy, quick, crowd pleaser, and strong enough to hold up to the cheesecake. Winner!
Once deciding on the crust, the rest followed pretty easily. We added a decadent swirl of plain cheesecake batter to the pumpkin flavour, and topped off the baked bars with candied walnuts for some crunch.
Overall, these were a hit and pretty simple to make! Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
Yield: 1 8×8 pan, cut into 16 bars.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup cool unsalted butter, cut into small squares
- 1/2 package brick cream cheese, at room temperature (set this out about an hour before using)
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
- Note: If using canned pumpkin pie filling, use 1 cup and forgo the additional sugar.
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 whole egg, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 package brick cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8×8 inch square pan with parchment paper – make sure it comes over the sides of the pan.
- Prepare the crust: Using a food processor, pastry cutter, or two forks, pulse together the flour and brown sugar. Then, cut in the butter evenly until blended. The mixture should be dry and crumbly. Press into the prepared pan (really press down so the dough is compact) and bake for 18 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned. Cool while preparing the filling.
- For the pumpkin cheesecake, beat the cream cheese to soften, then cream together with the sugar. Add the pumpkin and stir until smooth. The mixture should not be lumpy at this point – if it is, the cream cheese was not warm enough. To fix this, let the batter sit for 30 minutes or so until everything is brought to room temperature. Using a whisk, add in the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Whisk in the egg and yolk.
- Add pumpkin cheesecake batter to the cooled shortbread crust and spread evenly.
- Prepare the cheesecake swirl: beat the cream cheese until smooth, and cream with the sugar. Stir in the egg yolk and vanilla until smooth.
- Pour batter into a measuring cup and drizzle on top of the pumpkin batter. Using a bamboo skewer in a swirling motion, combine the swirl with the pumpkin until satisfied with the design.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake have settled and there is still a little jiggle left in the centre. Cool for 2 hours before slicing.
- While the bars are cooling, prepare the candied walnuts. Heat the butter over medium high heat in a large pan until just starting to brown (this gives it a little more of a nutty flavour). Stir in brown sugar with butter and stir until sugar has dissolved and begins to carmelize. Add in walnuts and sprinkle with cinnamon. Turn the heat to low, and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Set walnuts on paper towel to dry.
- Once bars are cooled, slice and press walnut chunks into the top and serve.
- Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 – 3 days.