Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars

    Happy early Thanksgiving!!!!!!

    This year I was lucky enough to attend a Thanksgiving Potluck right before classes ended for the break. I had it in my head to make some yummy pumpkin cheesecake bars and set off to the Interwebs to find a recipe. But, to my amazement, there were NONE for cheesecake bars. None that looked good, anyway. So I decided to just make my own. This recipe is extremely loosely based on this one by Williams Sonoma. Their recipe is for an actually circular cheesecake, and I made mine into bars which cut the cooking time in more than half!

    Graham Cracker Crust

    2 packages graham cracker, finely crushed
    1 stick butter
    2 tsp cinnamon

    Mix all this together and pack into a 9 x 13 inch pan that you've greased nicely. Push it into the corners and the bottom (but not up the sides because those bits will burn). You can use the bottom of a cup to help with this. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until it is golden brown.

    For the Filling

    2 packages cream cheese, at room temperature!!!!
    3/4 cup sour cream
    4 eggs
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup pumpkin
    3/4 cup sugar + 4Tbs sugar
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg

    Cream together the cream cheese and the 3/4 sugar. Add the sour cream and eggs. Throw in a pinch of salt.

    Take a little over 2/3 of the mixture and put it in a second bowl. To this, add the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 4 Tbs sugar. Taste the first and second mix for sugar and adjust according to your tastes.

    After the crust is completely cooled, pour the pumpkin mixture into the bottom. Then spoon over the white mixture (drizzle it around or make a pretty arrangement). You can take a knife and drag it through the pumpkin so the white forms a pumpkin trail behind them. You can kind of see this in the picture below - but basically you want to make a swirl between the two.

    Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Start checking it and wait until it just springs back to the touch. It make be a little wiggly in the middle, but that's fine. I didn't have that issue, but it's better to underbake it a little than overbake and burn the cheese.

    Make this a day ahead of time because it does need to sit for a while - or start early in the morning. Also, as I said before - get that cream cheese to room temp early! Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.

    The bars were a huge hit at the party...and at my group meeting the next day. I got the compliment of my life when a friend from class asked me to post the recipe ASAP so she could make it for her family. I hope she does and tells me all about it :)

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