These bars are just dreamy. Creamy pumpkin cheesecake sits on top of a sweet-salty chocolate crust. Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream and it’s just amazing. Sprinkles optional.
The good folks at Betty Crocker recently asked me to think up a sweet treat for Halloween using one of General Mills’ Big G cereals (disclosure: I freelance for General Mills’ Tablespoon.com). I decided to go with Cocoa Puffs, which have a fantastic sweet-salty thing going on.
The resulting dessert is Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares. And oh, are they good!
The whole thing is relatively easy. You mix up the two-ingredient crust, press it into the pan, mix the cheesecake portion, pour it on and bake. Easy peasy. And they are almost guaranteed to draw oohs when you serve it.
Of course, my kids were ridiculously excited when they saw me bring home a box of Cocoa Puffs. They’ve never had them before, and were dying to give their chocolate-y goodness a try. Try explaining to two eager kids that the chocolate cereal is for a recipe, not for them. Yeah. So I caved and gave them a little to snack on.
After trying it, they were even more excited about the Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars. Smiles all around.
Cocoa Puffs Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
yields 12 bars
1 1/2 cups finely ground cocoa puffs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan (glass preferred) with parchment paper, letting the edges of the paper rise up the sides of the pan.
Prepare the crust. Stir together the ground cocoa puffs and butter until well combined. Press into the bottom of the 9×13 pan, creating an even coating all over.
Combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, until fully combined. Add the vanilla extract and beat on medium for 10 seconds.
Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust, spreading to even it out.
Slide the pan into the oven (the rack should be in the middle of the oven) and bake for 20-25 minutes, until set. The bars are done when a knife inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean.