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A celebration of pumpkin and cheesecake

Amy Drew Thompson
Orlando Sentinel
Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake Bars With Streusel Topping are a seasonal treat.

I decided early on that I wanted to do bars for National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day (Oct. 21).

These bars are really tasty, with fall-seasonal spices and scents paired with creamy fillings and a nice, thick, buttery crust.

The crunchy, creamy, gooey recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron features two words no food pornographer can resist: caramel and streusel.

Her photos were gorgeous and thickly layered. Mine didn’t come out so impressive, but the layering is there. The unholy trinity of buttery-crunchy topping, buttery-salty caramel sauce and buttery-spicy cinnamon graham crust does a lot to make up for looks if necessary. The ugly ones would look great hot in a mug with vanilla ice cream before catching the express train to Tummy Town.

Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake Bars With Streusel Topping

Crust

1 1/2 cups (10-11 sheets) cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (I pulverized them in the

food processor)

1/4 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

6 tablespoons melted butter

Cheesecake

2 8-ounce packages full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (leave out at least one hour)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Streusel & Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup white flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter, softened (not melted)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salted or plain caramel sauce for topping the bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 9-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper (leave an overhang to be able to pull out bars easily) and set aside.

In a bowl, combine crust ingredients and mix until “dough” forms. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake 8 minutes.

For streusel, using the same bowl as the crust, stir together brown sugar, white flour, oats and cinnamon. Add in butter and vanilla. Mix until combined. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine cream cheese, (room temperature is important for smoothness, microwaving will give it a bumpy texture) sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat with mixer until smooth and creamy. Add in eggs one at a time. Beat until combined.

Remove 11/2 cups of mixture. Pour over prepared crust.

Add canned pumpkin, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice to remaining cheesecake mixture and stir until combined.

Being careful not to combine

layers, gently pour the pumpkin layer on top of the plain layer. Top with streusel. Bake 30 minutes or until cake is set. (Note: It took about 40 minutes in my oven.)

Allow to cool for about an hour. Refrigerate an additional 1-2 hours minimum before serving. Top each bar with caramel.

— Courtesy of Chelseasmessyapron.com