Make Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars Lighter

Lori Lamothe

These pumpkin cheesecake bars use reduced and fat-free cream cheese to keep saturated fat at a minimum. The recipe also reduces the amount of butter and substitutes egg whites for 3 of the eggs. They're easier to make than cheesecake, not to mention significantly fewer calories. Yet the rich, spicy taste makes them a sweet and creamy fall snack that's lighter than cheesecake.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients

Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

8 teaspoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces (2.667 tablespoons)

Cooking spray

Filling:

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 8-ounce package fat-free cream cheese, softened

1 8-ounce block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened

6 large egg whites (or use 3 eggs as a substitute)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 large egg

Topping:

1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 teaspoons water

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Whisk flour, salt and brown sugar together or pulse 5 times in a food processor. Cut in the softened butter with a pastry blender or food processor until mixture resembles fine meal. Press 1 cup of flour mixture evenly into the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan coated with cooking spray. Reserve remaining flour mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.

3. With a mixer on medium speed, beat together granulated sugar, brown sugar and cream cheeses in a bowl for 2 minutes or until smooth. Scrape pumpkin puree into bowl using a rubber spatula. Add egg whites, cinnamon, vanilla, allspice and large egg. Beat until smooth and scrape batter onto baked crust.

4. Combine reserve flour mixture and pecans in a small bowl. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons water. Squeeze handfuls of topping to form large pieces. Crumble over filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until filling is firmly set. Remove from heat; cool in pan on a wire rack to room temperature. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 16 servings.

Calories: 216 per bar

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Writer, assistant professor, former baker. I cover recipes, cold cases, history, and culture. If you have a story idea you'd like me to investigate, you can email me at lorilamothe29@gmail.com. Older cold case articles can be found on Vella and Medium.

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