Being from the Philadelphia area, I grew up loving Ivin's Spiced Wafers and looked forward to enjoying them every autumn with vanilla ice cream sandwiched between 2 wafers. As I got older and became the designated dessert baker for Thanksgiving, I was always looking for ways to incorporate the delicious flavors found in the spiced wafers into my Thanksgiving desserts. A pie is so obvious and everyone was always so full from dinner that a whole piece of pie seemed like too much after a large meal. After years of packing up desserts for the family to enjoy as leftovers, I finally started changing up the recipes to create "smaller bites" of a few different desserts. Since I am now in Boston and away from home, Thanksgiving is the one day a year that I am able to satisfy everyone's dessert favorites, which is a huge task in a large family with many special requests! This recipe satisfies the cheesecake lovers and the chocolate lovers while still paying homage to the star of the season, pumpkin. The twist is the gingersnap crust. It adds a little more seasonal flavor to the dessert while nicely complementing the chocolate and pumpkin cheesecake layers. Since introducing these bars several years ago, they are a mainstay and favorite at the dessert table. I enjoy being able to make them the night before and keeping them in the baking dish makes for easy transport to Mom's house. This recipe makes 2+ dozen little bars, perfect for feeding a large crowd and small enough that the guests can still try one of my apple dumplings or make a gingersnap ice cream sandwich like me! —kxr173
24 - 36 bars
1 1/2 cups
finely crushed gingersnap or spiced wafer cookie crumbs (best to use are Ivin’s or Sweetzel’s - use approximately 20 wafers)
8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups
fresh cooked, pureed pumpkin (if using canned, make sure it is pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix!)
pumpkin pie spice
pure vanilla extract
dark chocolate chips (can also use semi-sweet)
1 1/4 cups
For Garnish (optional): Grated fresh nutmeg or chocolate curls
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine gingersnap cookie crumbs and 3 Tbsp. brown sugar. Stir in the 1/4 cup melted butter. Press mixture evenly into bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Cool on rack and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and the 1-3/4 cups sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and salt on low speed just until combined. Remove 1-1/4 cups of the mixture.
In a small heavy saucepan, combine the chocolate chips and the 2 tablespoons butter. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Whisk chocolate mixture into the 1-1/4 cups pumpkin mixture. Pour over crust, spreading evenly. Bake for 15 minutes.
Carefully pour the remaining pumpkin mixture over baked chocolate layer, spreading evenly. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes more or until filling is puffed and center is set. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream and 1/4 cup sugar. Gently spread over cookies. Cool completely. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. Cut into bars.
*Before serving, sprinkle with nutmeg and/or chocolate curls for garnish.