Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars and Pumpkin Pie Spice

It’s mid-September.
The holiday season is fast approaching.
If you live in Canada Thanksgiving will be on October 12.
Yeah… that’s less than a month.
Sheesh.

Pumpkin is a popular ingredient in many Fall / Winter holiday menus.
Pumpkin is also a popular ingredient in Maltese cooking, especially in our vegetable soups.
Pumpkin is everywhere.
In the stores they sometimes give you a free pumpkin pie if you buy a couple of things.

But, to be honest, after a while even a good pie can get a bit boring.

Mix it up.
Be a woman of mystery.
Serve pumpkin in a cheesecake.
After 60, this is as much excitement as we can stand.


Hints:

Buy a box of crushed graham cracker crumbs.
Trust me, you’ll use them.

If you’re using pumpkin from a fresh pumpkin, don’t waste the pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds, when roasted, are a great low calorie snack.

Refrigerate any leftover bars for up to 2 days, in an air-tight container.

Pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie are said to bring money and luck your way as well.
Low calorie they’re not. 


                        Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 Cup ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoons ground allspice

Makes a scant 1/2 Cup
Pumpkin Pie Spice also goes nicely on the mashed sweet vegetables and onions.


                        Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

The Crust

Line an 8" square baking pan with aluminum foil, with ends of foil extending over sides.  
Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350º F.

Crush enough graham crackers until you have
3/4 Cup fine graham cracker crumbs

Add 
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
Combine well
Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake in the oven for 7 minutes.


The Filling

Combine in a large mixer bowl
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup pumpkin (canned or cooked and pureed)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice 
1/4 teaspoon salt
Beat at medium speed until smooth.
Add, one at a time
2 large eggs
Beat at low speed until smooth.  Do not over beat.
Pour the pumpkin cheesecake filling into the prepared pan.
Tap the pan against the counter to get rid off air bubbles on the surface.
Bake for 35 minutes.
The pie should be set around the edges, with a slightly soft centre.
Cool on a wire rack 1 hour or until completely cooled.
Keep the cake in the pan, and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

About an hour before serving remove the cake from the refrigerator.
Remove the cheesecake from the pan. 
Slice into bars, and place on a platter.
Garnish each bar with 
a walnut
or 
whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)
or
a drizzle of caramel sauce and a sprinkle of cloves (optional)
or
whatever you like and have

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