Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust

For those Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, itís time to start planning the delicious dessert recipes that weíre going to prepare. For me, Christmas is synonymous with pumpkin pie. However, this year I think Iím going to mix things up a bit (but not too much Ė I still have to have my pumpkin dessert!) I always have a spare can of pumpkin puree in my pantry, and I love, love, love cheesecake. So what better than to pair the two ingredients to create this Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust recipe? This is a great festive pumpkin dessert recipe sure to please any pumpkin lover.

Many people donít know that pumpkins are actually a cultivar of a squash plant (specifically winter squash). While pumpkins are widely used for both recreation and food, commercially prepared canned pumpkin puree is usually made from different kinds of winter squash than the pumpkins that are carved as jack-oí-lantern decorations for Halloween. Like squash, pumpkins are thought to have originated in North America (the oldest evidence dates between 7000 and 5500 BCE), making pumpkin pie a truly ĎAmericaní dish. Pumpkins are extremely versatile for cooking, with most parts being edible, including the shell, seeds, leaves and even flowers. But for this pumpkin recipe, we wonít be making our own puree for this pumpkin dessert recipe (unless you want to, that is); instead weíll be using canned pumpkin puree (but make sure itís puree and not pumpkin pie filling!).

Just like peanut butter and jelly and milk and cookies were Ďmadeí for each other, so are pumpkin and gingerbread flavors. The Gingersnap crust, made from gingersnap cookie crumbs, butter, cinnamon and sugar, is Ďwhere itís atí, and adds a real depth of flavor to the whole pumpkin cheesecake dessert recipe. If you arenít familiar with gingersnaps, quickly acquaint yourself. Youíll fall in love instantly. Ginger-type biscuits are flavored with powdered ginger and a variety of other spices, including cinnamon, molasses and nutmeg, giving them a rich and spicy sweetness. And while you might enjoy eating just the gingersnap crust, your next step is to prepare and add a cheesecake layer (which helps to make the gingersnap crust that much more incredible!).

Typically cheesecake recipes are made with cream cheese, but you can substitute for ricotta cheese (which is creamy and slightly sweet). Both varieties of cheeses are available in low-fat or fat-free versions to make this sinfully delightful dessert just a little bit less sinful. I prefer to use cream cheese, but itís really up to you! Cheesecake has been around for centuries, and the recipe varies depending on the era, country and even region in which it is created. Cheesecakes can easily be prepared in many flavors, including strawberry, key lime, toffee or pumpkin. (If youíve never had pumpkin cheesecake, prepare your taste buds for an overload of amazing flavor with this pumpkin cheesecake recipe!)

What adds a little oomph to this pumpkin dessert, however, are the pumpkin pie spice, chopped pecans and whipped cream topping. Aside from adding aesthetic value to the overall presentation, these items also add texture to the creamy filling and further depth to the already rich flavor profile of this delicious pumpkin recipe. And while this delicious dessert recipe typically serves 12, you might find that it really only serves one (you), so you may want to make a double batch to ensure your family and friends get to partake in your delightful Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust.

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