Sep 5, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate & Pecan Cinnamon Streusel

As we slowly turn the corner into fall (well not here in Dubai, it’s still about a million degrees out…in the shade) it’s finally that time of year to dust off our pumpkin recipes.  What is it with bakers and pumpkin recipes in the fall?  Especially considering that pretty much ALL of us use canned pumpkin in our recipes, which hello! is available all year round! 

I guess it’s all about getting into the season and nostalgia of flavors we remember from our childhood.  As a kid I remember my mom baking plenty of pumpkin recipes in the fall, so as a mother now myself, it just seems like the honorary thing to do.  
And don’t ever let any hoity-toity diva tell you there is something wrong with using canned pumpkin (seriously hoity-toity is an actual word…as in THE dictionary lol).  Martha Stewart uses it and so does Ina Garten.  In fact, I was watching Ina whip up some purdy-pumpkin treat and she said specifically ‘using canned pumpkin for baking is MUCH better than hacking up one from the garden and trying to grind it down to a consistent pulp’ or you know, she said something to the effect of that anyway.  Look, canned pumpkin will always have the perfect texture, taste, and correct consistency for baking.  Save your pretty garden versions for jack o’ lantern’s or better yet, chillin' beer.  
Happy Fall!
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate & Pecan Cinnamon Streusel
makes 9 large or 16 skinny-person size bars
For the Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar
4 ounces butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
For the Filling:
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon ginger
For the Streusel:
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 ounces butter, cold and cut into small chunks
¾ cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine all of the crust ingredients in a medium sized bowl. 
Combine mixture with the back of a fork until crumbly.   

Press into a 9x9 inch pan and bake for 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, combine all of the filling ingredients in the bowl of a stand up mixer (hand mixer is also fine) and mix on medium speed for about 1-2 minutes; set aside.  

Combine all of the streusel ingredients in a medium bowl.  Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients until the mixture is crumbly.

Once the crust has finished baking, remove from oven.  Pour filling mixture over the hot crust. 
Place chocolate chips in a small bowl.  Mix with about 2 teaspoons of flour.  
Transfer chips to a sieve and shake off any excess flour. This step ensures the chocolate won't sink to the bottom of the bars.
Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the filling. 
Using your fingers, gently break apart the streusel crumbles evenly over the chocolate chips to create an even layer.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until streusel is set.  Let cool completely on wire rack. 
Bars are best served cold.  Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and dust with cinnamon.  Enjoy!

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