Decadent autumn inspired cheesecake bars! These are perfectly creamy, deliciously pumpkiny and spiced and finished with a caramelized crisp sugar shell. Three layers of utter bliss.
Ready in: 1hour25minutes
1 1/3cups (140g)finely crushed graham crackers (about 10 1/2 full sheets)
2Tbsp (30g)packed light brown sugar
6Tbsp (3 oz)unsalted butter,melted
1/2cup (110g)packed light-brown sugar
6Tbsp (80g)granulated sugar
3Tbsp (28g)all-purpose flour
1/8tspground allspice or cloves
2(8 oz) pkgs.cream cheese,softened
1/4cup (60g)sour cream
1 1/3cups (326g)pumpkin puree
6Tbsp (80g)granulated sugar*
Whipped cream,pecans, mint leaves and cinnamon/nutmeg blend, for garnish (optional)
For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line a 9 by 9-inch baking sheet with two sheet of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Butter parchment, set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together crushed graham crackers, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Pour in melted butter and mix with a fork until evenly moistened. Pour into prepared baking dish and press firmly into an evenly layer. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes, remove from oven and cool on a wire cooling rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
For the filling: In a mixing bowl whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice (using fingertips to break up clumps of brown sugar as needed).
Add cream cheese and using an electric hand mixer, blend just until cream cheese is smooth, about 20 - 30 seconds. Mix in eggs one at a time, mixing just until combined, then blend in sour cream and vanilla.
Lay out several layers of paper towels and pour pumpkin onto paper towels then wrap paper towels over pumpkin to remove some of the excess moisture until you have removed 1/3 cup of the moisture, you should now have 1 cup pumpkin puree.
Pour pumpkin into cream cheese mixture and blend just until combined. Tap bowl against countertop about 10 times to release large air pockets, then pour over crust and spread evenly.
Bake in preheated oven 40 - 45 minutes, edges should be set but center should still jiggle slightly. Cool on wire rack 30 minutes then transfer to refrigerator and chill at least 4 hours (this portion can be made a day in advance).
Lift from pan using all sides of parchment overhang. Cut into bars and remove from parchment.
For the topping: Sprinkle each square with an even layer of sugar and melt sugar with a culinary torch (I did a few thin layers to get a thicker, more even shell and I'd fill the spaces where the sugar didn't melt. Melt sugar within several hours of serving because the sugar shell will start to soften).
Return to refrigerator and chill 30 - 60 minutes, or until that top layer that was heated from torching has set again.
Pipe or spoon a small dollop of whipped cream over top, then add a pecan, sprinkle lightly with cinnamon/nutmeg blend and garnish with mint (garnish just before serving).
*If you don't own a kitchen torch you can skip the brulee sugar topping and serve with a caramel sauce instead.