I had a pumpkin spice latte for the first time a few weeks ago and . . .
I hated it.
Well, hate is a strong word, but I didn't like it, not even a little bit. It was just way too sweet and . . . spicy? I ended up having to dump half of it out and dilute the remaining overly sweet liquid with coffee just to appease my taste buds. Pretty disappointing considering the hype that came along with that drink purchase. After all, I had meticulously planned our morning around that silly drink. Kev and I were to walk to our favorite neighborhood bakery, pick up a croissant (for me), a cinnamon roll (for him), plain cheap coffee (for him), and a PSL (for me). I tried to choke down more than a few gulps, but I had to stop after the first two.
You're all probably looking at your computer screen with mouths agape, wondering how anyone on earth could do anything but fall head over heels in love with the most beloved and talked-about drink of Fall. Sorry to disappoint all you #PSL fanatics out there, but it just was not my thing. If I get a froufrou drink from Starbucks, it's almost always a skinny vanilla latte when it's cooler and an iced coffee with a splash of vanilla and skim milk if it's hot as heck. I've just never been one to waste my calories and sugar intake on a drink; I'd rather have an extra helping of pasta, or if we're talking Fall and pumpkin, I'd much rather have one of these pumpkin streusel cheesecake squares.
I know I've spoken about my previous lackluster feelings toward desserts, but cheesecake has always been one of the few desserts that I absolutely cannot resist. As a kid, I would eat obscenely large helpings of cheesecake more often than I care to admit. In fact, one of my favorite after-school snacks was literally cream cheese and sugar mixed together and then eaten by the spoonful. Gross, I know.
Obviously my cheesecake consumption has tapered off considerably in the last decade, but that doesn't mean I have any less love for it. These days, however, it's more of a once- or twice-a-year indulgence instead of an everyday occurrence.
Pumpkin streusel cheesecake squares combine all my favorite dessert indulgences into one bite. Luscious cheesecake filling, a sweet and salty graham cracker crust, and buttery streusel topping are the building blocks of the dessert, and my go-to cheater's caramel sauce (optional) is drizzled over once the squares have cooled completely.
Even though I'm a little disappointed the PSL wasn't meant for me, I'm glad I have other pumpkin indulgences to keep my sweet tooth satisfied, because what would Fall be without it??
- For the crust:
- 1 package graham crackers
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Pinch of salt
- For the filling:
- 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- For the crumble topping:
- 1/2 cup oats
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
- Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse graham crackers until crushed. With the food processor running, slowly add in the butter, processing until combined evenly. Add the salt and pulse until combined.
- Press graham cracker crust into the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the temperature of the oven down to 325°F.
- Make the filling: In a stand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar. Beat until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and salt. Beat until smooth. With the mixer on low, add eggs one at a time until combined.
- Make the crumble topping: Combine the oats, salt, and flour in a small mixing bowl. Cut butter in with a fork or rub it in with your fingertips until combined.
- Once the crust has cooled, pour the filling on top. Sprinkle with the crumb topping and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until set.
- Let cool to room temperature, and then store in the fridge for at least 4 hours or until completely cold and set before cutting into 16 squares.
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