Try these scary good Maple pumpkin cheesecake bars

Try these scary good Maple pumpkin cheesecake bars

click to enlarge Silky, smooth pumpkin cheesecake laced with spice and a hint of maple. - SUSAN FILSON
Susan Filson
Silky, smooth pumpkin cheesecake laced with spice and a hint of maple.

With Halloween right around the corner, I was looking to make something with pumpkin, maybe a pie or a cheesecake. Since I had several boxes of Biscoff cookies — crispy, crunchy, addictive little spiced cookies, very similar to gingersnaps — lying around, I figured that I could use some of them to make the crust. The end result: maple pumpkin cheesecake bars with a Biscoff cookie crust.

The recipe for these bars is super easy and virtually foolproof. I took a basic pumpkin pie recipe and tweaked it by adding cream cheese and maple syrup to the filling, and of course, by using my Biscoff cookies for the crust. I also saved a little time and minimized the cleanup by mixing both the crust and filling in my food processor. Who wants to wash a bunch of extra dirty bowls?

I love, love, love these! The bar format works out great, and you can cut them into any size square you want and decorate each one individually. They're also neater and easier to eat than a pie or cheesecake because you don't really need a fork.

As for the taste: my, oh my, do these taste amazing! They are like silky-smooth pumpkin cheesecakes laced with spice and a hint of maple. Topped with a splotch of whipped cream and candy corn, these bars are a perfect little Halloween treat!

Note: The Biscoff cookies used for the piecrust are available at several area locations, including Publix, Sweetbay and Walmart (and also on your next domestic flight). If you can't find them, gingersnap cookies will work just as well.

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Makes approximately 24 bars

Cookie crust ingredients:

1 package Biscoff cookies

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

5-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Maple pumpkin filling ingredients:

1 8-ounce brick cream cheese, softened

2 large eggs

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree (approximately 2 cups)

1 cup light brown sugar

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh whipped cream and candy corn for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line the bottom and sides of a lightly buttered 9 x 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil that extends at least 3-inches over each end of the pan. You will use this overlap to remove the baked bars from the pan. Lightly butter the foil.

2. To make the crust, pulse cookies and sugar together in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. Add 5 tablespoons melted butter and pulse a few more times to incorporate. The crumbs should look like wet sand and hold together when pinched. If the crumb mixture is too dry, add an additional teaspoon of butter at a time until the right consistency is achieved.

3. Press crumbs evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry the bowl of the food processor.

4. While crust is baking, prepare the pumpkin filling. Combine all filling ingredients, except the whipped cream and candy corn, together in the bowl of the food processor and process until smooth. Pour the filling over the pre-baked crust and tap the pan down on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Bake until the filling is set in the center, about 30 - 35 minutes. Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool.

5. Run a knife around the inside edges of the pan to loosen the pumpkin bars. Using the foil, carefully lift the bars from the pan and onto a cutting surface. Peel back the foil and cut into squares with a warm, sharp knife. Serve chilled or at room temperature, with a dollop of whipped cream and a candy corn on top, if desired.

6. The bars can be stored, covered, in the fridge for about 4 days.

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