Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars with Streusel Topping

12 Days of Cookies
– Day 4 –

One of my favorite things to eat around the holidays (and even year-round) is pumpkin. It’s so versatile and can be used in baked goods, breads, soups, etc. One of the things I love to pair with pumpkin is cream cheese. Refer to my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Cakes or Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Cream Cheese Icing as prime examples. Clearly I love that combo since this is now the 3rd time I’m posting those flavors together. ;-)

Another blogger I love following is Christy over at The Girl Who Ate Everything. First of all, what a genius name. haha! I definitely could apply that blog title to myself as I’ll eat nearly everything, except mushrooms. I’m sorry, I know I’m a chef and I should like them, but I don’t. I’ve tried and I just don’t.

Anyway… I had an extra cup of pumpkin puree and a block of cream cheese, so I browsed some of my favorite blogs and that’s when I ran across this recipe on Christy’s blog. I immediately knew it was what I wanted. I mean, how can you resist these?

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

Admittedly, they’re definitely more a cake than a cookie, but I really like how they’re served in bar-form and so we’re going to consider these a bar cookie… even though it’s cake. Just go with it, people. :)

Once again, this is a very simple recipe. You cream together the ingredients for the cheesecake and set aside. The pumpkin cake is then mixed by hand and the two mixtures are swirled together. Christy suggests sprinkling chopped pecans on the top of the bars before baking. I decided to put a streusel topping instead because I just love that taste and texture. If you don’t want to mess with streusel topping, you can just do nuts. If you don’t want/like nuts, leave them both off and I guarantee you these will still taste amazing! They’re super moist, have a very nice spice flavor and will surely please a crowd. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars with Streusel Topping
Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Yield: 16-20 bars

Filling:
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Batter:
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (see note)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons oats (quick or old-fashioned)
2 Tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (218 degrees C). Spray and line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer, cream together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth; set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, egg and oil; whisk together until well combined. Stir in the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. Spread half the pumpkin batter in the bottom of the pan. Drop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture on top of that. Drop the remaining pumpkin mixture by spoonfuls on top of that. Using a skewer, chopstick or something of that nature, swirl the ingredients together. My method of swirling is simply running a skewer in large “S” formation from one end to the other. Rotate the pan 90 degrees and do the same again.

5. Combine the ingredients for the streusel topping using a pastry cutter or your fingers. Sprinkle it on top of the bars.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You do not want the cheesecake layer getting too much color, so be sure not to over bake.

7. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.


Cook’s Notes

If you do not have pumpkin pie spice and are like me and have a cupboard full of many other random spices, you can make your own. For this recipe you’ll need the following:

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice

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