(I may have been trying slightly too hard with the picture, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere!)
A couple of facts about these…
Fact 1: Everything is better when associated with shortbread.
Fact 2: “(Bites)” is in ( ) because this works just as well as an actual cheesecake, and as cheesecake squares/bites. I usually cut it up in snack-sized squares, because it lasts longer, and the more days I get to eat cheesecake, the better.
Fact 3: This may seem obvious, but with very minor alterations, you can swap the pumpkin out for any other flavour (I’ve used wild Ontario blueberries with the same base.
Fact 4: Cheesecake is much less intimidating than you think.
(See below the recipe for notes)
- 180g all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 170g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 100g granulated sugar
- 50g light brown sugar*
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla paste (you can substitute an equal amount of pure vanilla extract)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8″ square or 9″ round pan with foil, then grease or spray bottom and sides with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and cornstarch. Set aside.
- In the stand mixer, beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
- Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating on medium until combined.
- On low speed, add the flour mixture in four additions. Mix until combined.
- Slide the dough into the pan, and press into the base (not up the sides) in an even layer. Wrap the flat bottom of a cup with plastic wrap and use it to flatten and even out the cookie.
- Lay a sheet of parchment on top of the cookie, long enough to overhang the pan. Fill with dry beans or pie weights (if you don’t have either, you can ‘dock‘ the cookie, but I recommend the weights).
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown, then set aside to cool.
Chocolate Pumpkin Filling
(Don’t let the number of ingredients fool you. This is a really easy recipe!)
- 450g cream cheese (2 standard packages), softened to room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 67g granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tbsp AP flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 ½ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp clove
- 150g chocolate (~70% dark, or Dulcey Blonde)
- Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature (if it is colder than room temperature, you’ll end up with chunks in the cake. Seriously, wait till it’s at room temperature).
- Using a stand mixer (paddle), beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. You’ll need to scrape down the bowl repeatedly.
- Add remaining ingredients except chocolate and mix on medium, until smooth and creamy, about 3 full minutes.
- Melt the chocolate (over a bain marie, or in short bursts in the microwave, being careful not to get it too hot) and allow to cool slightly. Once warm but not hot, add 1 cup of cream cheese mixture to the chocolate and combine.
- Pour pumpkin mixture into crust.
- Drop dollops of chocolate mixture onto pumpkin mixture and swirl. (If serving as a cake, rather than bars, you can also pour the chocolate mixture directly into the middle, letting it naturally push outwards.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cheesecake has set up and the edges are lightly browned. The bars will be very puffy, but will sink slightly down as they cool. Allow to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature on a wire rack and then chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours (overnight is fine too). Lift the foil out of the pan and cut into squares.
- If you want a richer flavour, you can reverse the sugar proportions in the cookie (50g granulated sugar, 100g light brown sugar).
- The cookie base can be made and blind baked a day or two in advance. Wrap in plastic and keep it in the fridge until ready to bake.
- I use Valrhona chocolate in my baking, and I highly recommend using their Dulcey Blonde in this recipe. It can be hard to find though (and expensive), so feel free to use a chocolate with up to 70% cocoa in its place. It obviously changes the flavour completely, but both are great. And as with everything, the better quality the chocolate, the better flavour you’re going to get!