Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. What could be better than getting together with friends and family and eating all day? Since I am hosting Thanksgiving this year I have started planning my menu and these pumpkin cheesecake bars with toasted marshmallow frosting are front and center. I have been making pumpkin cheesecake for the past five Thanksgivings and without fail, it is always a crowd favorite. This year I decided to adapt the cheesecake into bars giving this tried and true recipe a modern twist.
I love the idea of pumpkin especially when paired with warm spices like cinnamon and ginger, but pumpkin pie is sometimes too much pumpkin for me. I think it is the texture that throws me off, as well as the piecrust. This cheesecake solves all of that. It has the best part of pumpkin pie with the warm fall spices but has a silky texture and tanginess from the cream cheese that I enjoy. Not to mention it comes with a gingersnap crust that is out of this world. So as your brainstorming for Thanksgiving make sure this recipe is on your list, I promise your friends and family will love it.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 cups gingersnap cookies
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the topping:
4 eggs whites, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1.) Preheat an oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 9” baking pan with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper leaving some paper to hang over the sides.
2.) Make the crust by grinding gingersnaps, pecans and brown sugar in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Add melted butter and combine until the mixture is the texture of wet sand. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; press evenly onto the bottom. Bake crust until set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
3.) Make the filling by beating the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixture (or with a hand mixer) until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in pumpkin. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating on low speed to incorporate each addition. Add flour, spices, and salt. Beat in vanilla. Transfer filling to crust. Bake until filling is just set in center and edges begin to crack (filling will still be slightly jiggly), about 1 hour. Chill cheesecake in refrigerator until chilled, preferably overnight.
4.) When ready to serve, make the frosting by combining egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using an oven mitt, place bowl over a stove burner. Turn onto medium heat and carefully whisk egg mixture over medium heat until egg whites are hot, about 4 minutes. (Whisk continuously or the eggs whites will cook) Remove from stove top, place on stand mixture and add vanilla. With a whisk attachment whip egg mixture until it becomes white and fluffy and stiff peaks are formed, about 5 -6 minutes. Spread mixture on top of cheesecake bars and toast slightly with a kitchen torch.
Serves: 9 with huge squares or 16 with normal portions.
Recipe tips: This recipe is great to make the day before. Simply make the crust and filling, cook and chill overnight until ready to serve. When ready to serve, pull the cheesecake out of the refrigerator and add topping. Also, if you don’t have a kitchen torch you can use the broiler on your oven, just watch it closely. Place the bars on a rack in your oven. Move the rack as close as possible to the broiler and broil the top for about 30 seconds or until the topping is browned but not melted.
Recipe by Amanda Frederickson for Sacramento Street