Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
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Salted Caramel Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars — These pumpkin cheesecake bars are a texture lover’s dream with a crisp brown sugar-graham cracker crust, a soft yet dense pumpkin cheesecake layer, and gooey soft salted caramel swirls the run like a river over the surface.
Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
And the rest of the title is, “with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust.” They’re a happy accident that came to be after a recipe fail.
I was goofing around with some crescent roll dough and I don’t know how anyone can mess up dough-in-a-tube, but I did. I over-stuffed it and it was 3am. I used to still be out drinking at 3am on Friday nights, now I’m baking. Life sure changes.
I usually bake in the wee hours so that when daylight breaks, my goodies are cooled and camera-ready.
Normally I have a bucket list a mile long of things I want to make, but with moving last weekend, my daughter starting her first week back at school this week, I was drawing a blank.
I saw a container of light cream cheese from a recent Trader Joe’s trip and bam, cheesecake bars, with pumpkin came to me.
And a half-used jar of Salted Caramel Sauce from Trader Joe’s caught my eye for swirls. Perfect.
I added pumpkin and plenty of pumpkin pie spice to the cream cheese, so they have a nice pop of comforting pumpkin flavor.
Normally I pick around crust and am not into crust, but this crust recipe is my new go-to for graham cracker-based crusts. The brown sugar and butter caramelize, and add so much more flavor than typical graham cracker crusts.
I add a tablespoon of cornstarch to prevent the crust from getting overly brittle. It’s definitely got some snap, but it’s not so rigid it cracks or crumbles.
The tanginess from the cream cheese, coupled with the pumpkin and spices, balance some of the sweetness from the crust and caramel sauce.
About the only thing that could top peanut butter swirls are swirls of gooey, creamy, rich caramel. The caramel sauce really brings out the caramel tones that develop in the crust while it bakes.
The slight saltiness from the caramel mitigates some sweetness, and adds a bit of the salty-and-sweet element that people seem to love.
The pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars are rich, satisfying, and there’s so many layers of flavor, from cream cheese, pumpkin and spices, to brown sugar and caramel.
And they’re also a texture lover’s dream. A crisp crust, with a soft yet dense and firm middle, coupled with rivers of caramel flowing over the surface.
The best part is that they’re fast and easy to make, and way less intense than trying to make a whole cheesecake. Plus, I don’t want or need a whole cheesecake. This little 8×8-inch pan was plenty.
Every now and then I don’t mind a recipe fail because what’s created instead trumps the original plan.
The bars turned out infinitely better than anything with dough-in-a-tube could have!
What’s in the Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars?
To make the brown sugar graham cracker crust and pumpkin cheesecake filling, you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter
- Graham cracker crumbs
- Light brown sugar
- Cream cheese
- Granulated sugar
- Pumpkin puree
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Salted caramel sauce
How to Make Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars
Make the graham cracker crust mixture, then firmly pack into a foil-lined 8×8-inch pan.
The cheesecake filling is as easy as stirring together all the ingredients. Pour the filling over the crust, then swirl with caramel sauce in any pattern you’d like.
Bake the pumpkin cheesecake bars until the center is set with very little jiggle; some looseness and a very slight jiggle is okay, but there should not be sloshing in the center.
The bars will then need to cool on your countertop for 1 hour, and then chill in the fridge for another 2 hours prior to being served.
Can I Double This Recipe?
Yes, I imagine you can double the ingredients and bake the bars in a 9×13-inch pan. Note that the bake time need to be increased.
Can Cheesecake Bars Be Made in Advance?
Yes! These last up to 1 week in the fridge, just be sure to cover them tightly to prevent them from absorbing any fridge smells.
Tips for the Best Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Don’t use ice cream sundae sauce that’s runny, thin, and the first ingredient is corn syrup. It will get lost in the bars. Make sure the brand you use is nice and thick.
Use this salted caramel recipe if you want to make your own. It’s easy, but I had a half used jar and enjoy pantry cleanout recipes.
Note that the cheesecake bars freeze well. You can freeze a whole pan or individual slices. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the fridge.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
- 1 large egg
- 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature and very soft (light is okay, micro for 10-15 seconds if you forgot to set it out to soften)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- heaping 1/3 cup pumpin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (if you don’t have it, add pinches of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and cloves)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- heaping 1/3 cup salted caramel sauce (don’t ise ice cream sauce that’s made with corn syrup as the first ingredient because it’s too thin; thicker is better or make homemade salted caramel
For the crust:
- Preheat over to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
- Add all remaining crust ingredients and mix with a fork to combine.
- Turn loose crumbs out into prepared pan and using a spatula, pack mixture firmly into pan in an even, smooth, flat layer; set pan aside.
For the filling:
- In the same mixing bowl (no need to wash it), combine egg, cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and whisk until smooth and combined, or beat with an electric mixer. The softer the cream cheese is, the easier the mixture comes together.
- Add the flour and mix to just incorporate; don’t overmix.
- Pour filling over crust.
- Drizzle salted caramel sauce over batter to create swirls. To create the marbled pattern shown, drizzle caramel over batter in 5 wide, evenly spaced, parallel lines, each spanning the length of the pan. Like 5 rows of long train tracks. Rotate pan 90-degrees. With a toothpick, starting at the top of the pan, “draw” 5 evenly spaced lines through the caramel. You’re dragging the toothpick perpendicularly through the first set of lines to create the marbling.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set with very little jiggle; some looseness and a very slight jiggle is okay, but there should not be sloshing in the center. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
- Allow bars to cool in pan for about 1 hour before lifting out with foil overhang and slicing. I prefer to serve these bars chilled. Cover the pan with foil to prevent fridge smells, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, or until chilled before slicing and serving.
Storage: Bars will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 259Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 52mgSodium: 116mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 0gSugar: 25gProtein: 2g
More Easy Pumpkin Desserts:
Easy Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting — Moist pumpkin cake is topped with a creamy homemade cream cheese frosting. This easy fall dessert is perfect for Thanksgiving, Halloween, and more!
The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread — This pumpkin chocolate chip bread is truly the best homemade pumpkin bread you’ll ever make. It’s moist, packed with chocolate chips, and tastes like fall!
Pumpkin Spice Cookies — These pumpkin spice cookies are made without pumpkin puree but are full of flavor thanks to the pumpkin pie spice! These are so soft and fluffy!
Pumpkin Banana Bread — This bread is a mixture of both pumpkin and banana flavors whereas today’s cake is more robustly pumpkin-flavored. Depending on the flavor profile you want, they’re both moist, dense, pumpkiny, and you can’t go wrong with either!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies — Rich, fudgy brownies topped with pumpkin and chocolate chips!! An EASY, no mixer pumpkin brownie recipe that’s FASTER than using a boxed mix! Bring on pumpkin spice season!!
Cream Cheese-Filled Pumpkin Bread — This is without a doubt the BEST pumpkin bread recipe! This pumpkin cream cheese bread tastes like it has cheesecake baked into the middle. You’ll definitely want a second slice!
Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies — Between the molasses, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin pie spice extract that I used, these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies beautifully showcase the flavors of fall!
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bundt Cake— This easy pumpkin cake is loaded with chocolate chips and drizzled in rich and decadent chocolate ganache. It’s one of the best pumpkin cakes I’ve ever had!!
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