With all the apple recipes I’ve been posting lately you wouldn’t be remiss in thinking I done did forgot about fall’s dessert sweetheart—the pumpkin.
I adore everything pumpkin so it comes as much of a surprise to me as it does to you that I have yet to post some delicious squashy treat. And speaking of missteps, why oh why has it taken me so long to embrace Dulce de Leche? It is a sin I wish to be forgiven for so I’m combining both in these incredible cheesecake bars.
I have a love/hate relationship with bars. It’s pretty simple: I love them. But then there’s the other part: cutting them. Me and straight lines don’t really get along (see photo above for evidence).
I was infamous at CHOW for not being able to cut anything straight and was banned from food styling where bars were concerned. It would start out real good; one cut clean down the middle, but by the end I was always left with a piece half the size of the other pieces I just cut. Thank God I worked among friends because my guess is Martha wouldn’t have stood for that nonsense.
I guess I’m mentally incapable (read: do not have the patience) for cutting same-sized squares. It requires calculations and eye-balling, two skills I do not possess. Point being I will happily make you a pan of brownies, lemon squares, whatever your heart desires, but don’t be upset if the first square is roughly the size of a playing card and the last two a pair of dice.
But let’s talk about the most important aspect of these bars for a second, the flavor. The base for these beauties are Marías cookies. I love using these cookies as a base because their flavor is milky and not overly sweet. If you can’t find them you can substitute vanilla wafers or graham crackers.
The filling is as good as you would imagine, rich with pumpkin, creamy and smooth and loaded with big, fat dollops of caramel Dulce de Leche. This is the beginning of a very good autumn.
For the Crust:
- 1 (4.9 ounce) package Gamesa Marías Cookies
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 (13.4 ounce) can Dulce de Leche
- Heat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Spray a 8-inch square baking pan with baking spray then line the bottom and sides with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving a overhang on all sides.
- Combine cookies and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until cookies are in fine crumbs (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Add melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moist.
- Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish and press gently to make an even layer of crust. Bake until lightly toasted and firm, about 12-15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
- Place cream cheese in the food processor and blend until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin, eggs, flour, spice, and salt and blend until combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Pour Dulce de Leche into a medium bowl and add 1 cup of the pumping mixture. Whisk until smooth. Pour remaining pumpkin mixture over the crust. Drop spoonfuls of the Dulce de Leche onto the pumpkin mixture then use a skewer or butter knife to make decorative swirls in the filling.
- Bake until cheesecake slightly wobbles in the middle and the edges are set, about 40-50 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan until firm. Using overhang, transfer bars to a cutting board and cut into 16 squares.