These rich, creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars get an added flavor pop from the spicy gingerbread crust making them the ideal holiday dessert.
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I’ve come to a conclusion. Pumpkin and gingerbread are two flavors that are just simply made for each other! The creamy pumpkin cheesecake is the perfect balance with the spicy gingerbread crust giving you a fabulous flavor combo. This one is a big hit with dinner guests!
This is one of those recipes that I've been working on for quite a while - several years in fact! The idea started out as mini cheesecakes which were a bit hit in my taste tests but to really make them correctly you need to invest in a mini cheesecake pan, which isn't necessarily practical.
Then I tried it as a swirled cheesecake and gingerbread cake, which also got rave reviews but I thought it was a little dry. So I finally settled on this version - gingerbread pumpkin cheesecake bars. Definitely a winner!
Making Cheesecake Bars
Since you've got a cake-like crust combined with a pretty traditional cheesecake this recipe has multiple baking steps. But don't worry, it's not complicated and it is totally worth it!
You start by making the gingerbread crust. It's a combo of a cookie and a cake. This will be a pretty thin layer that you spread into the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish and then partially bake. It gives the cheesecake a solid base to sit on. I could pretty much eat the gingerbread crust by itself, but adding the cheesecake layer makes it really pop.
Then comes the cheesecake layer. This is an extra creamy cheesecake that could easily be eaten all by itself, but on top of the gingerbread crust it's just divine!
Cheesecake needs some time to cool and then set, so I suggest making this early in the day or even the day before. It will keep well in the refrigerator or 2-3 days.
What's the difference between unsulphured and sulphured molasses?
Unsulphured molasses is made from mature sugarcane. This makes the unsulphured variety thicker and sweeter, which is what you really want when you are baking.
More great holiday recipes
If you are looking for more great recipes to round out your holiday table check out these Fluffy Mashed Potatoes, these Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts and this Cornbread Stuffing with Sundried Tomatoes.
things you might want for this recipe
8x8 Baking Dish - These come in many many varieties. I normally just use a nice metal version but I recently came across this great baking dish from Crate and Barrel and I've been loving it!
Unsulphured Molasses - You can probably find this at your local grocery store - just make sure that it is the unsulphured version.
Baking Spray or Cake Release - You can buy this premade or you can make it from scratch.
Gingerbread Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
For the crust
- ¾ cup cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
For the cheesecake
- 2 8- ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8 baking dish or spray with cooking spray.
- Mix the dry ingredients. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt to a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Mix the wet ingredients. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until combined. Add the molasses, egg and milk. Continue mixing until smooth. Slowly add the flour mixure and continue to beat until all ingredients are incorporated. The batter will be quite thick.
- Make the crust. Spread the crust evenly into the greased baking pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- Make the cheesecake layer. While the crust is baking add the cream cheese and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low until smooth. Add the pumpkin and beat again until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once. Add the egg, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Beat again until fully incorporated.
- Bake. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the gingerbread layer, using the back of a spoon to smooth as needed. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until the chesecake is set in the middle. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes.
- Set the cheesecake. Once partially cooled, place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Top with chopped pecans and serve.
- You can make the cheesecake while the cake layer is cooking so the total hands-on time, including baking, for this recipe is really closer to 60 minutes.
- You need to plan for at least an hour for the cheesecake to cool and set so I recommend making this early in the day.