Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares (+ an event!)

I have been charmed by the Baked boys, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, since I read their first book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. The duo specialize in American comfort desserts with a sophisticated edge. They’ve recently published their third book, Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients (in addition to running a very successful bakery and creating a line of products for Williams Sonoma). This third book might be my favorite, a great collection of recipes organized by their favorite ingredients like pumpkin, cinnamon, and booze.

Here is where things get fun: Matt and Renato are coming to Chicago! I’m going to get to hang out with them, and so are you. Floriole and I are teaming up to host a book party and sweet tasting at the bakery. For $40 (plus tax) you will get your very own copy of Baked Elements (just in time for holiday baking/gift giving!), a buffet of our favorite treats from the book (prepared by Floriole’s expert bakers), and time to hear from Matt and Renato about their bakery and books (they’re so fun!). I’ll be there serving as host for the evening, and I really hope you’ll join me. There isn’t much I like better than meeting you good people in the real world. Tickets, and complete details, are available here or at Floriole. Don’t miss your chance to get Baked, right here in Chicago.

To get you excited about the book, I present this fantastic recipe for pumpkin cheesecake squares from Baked Elements. These are perfection and the best dessert for autumn.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares (from Baked Elements by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

For Pastry Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg

For the Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large eggs

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablesoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For serving:

  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch glass or light colored metal baking pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper and butter the parchment paper.

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until sandy (6 to 10 pulses). In a small bowl, whisk the egg and add it to the food processor. Pulse just until the dough begins to hold together (if the dough seems especially dry and crumbly you can add a teaspoon of water to bring it together). Form the dough into a disk, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Dust a work surface with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle slightly larger than 9×13 inches (the pan size) and about 1/4-inch thick. It might be easier to do this between two pieces of parchment paper.

Gently guide the dough into the pan and press lightly-without pulling- into the bottom; it is not necessary to bring the dough up the sides of the pan, only to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Trim off any excess. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the pan from the freezer, line it with aluminum foil, and fill it with pie-weighs or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300° F.

Make the cheesecake filling:

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed just until it is lump free and smooth. Do not over beat or the tops of the bars may crack. Add the sugar and beat again until well combined, about 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and spices. Add this mixture to the butter and beat to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter will be loose.

Pour the mixture over the crust and bake for 23-30 minutes, or until the filling is set and slightly puffy. Allow the bars to cool to room temperature, before chilling in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat just until smooth.

Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting over the top of the chilled pumpkin squares. Sprinkle pecans evenly over the top of the squares and return to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

They can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.


32 comments to “Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares (+ an event!)”

  1. Wish I were closer to Chicago. Have fun!

  2. Oooh, their Aunt Sassy Cake recipe is the best. Had no idea they were coming out with a new book! That whiskey chocolate tart sounds like the greatest thing ever. Thanks for sharing!

  3. this sounds so awesome! i wish that we lived closer to each other!!!

  4. I love the BAKED boys and all of their goodies. You’re so lucky that you’ll get to hang out. I’ll have to settle for baking their recipes. :-)

  5. Darn it! I’m away from Chicago for 6 mos on an assignment in Seattle. I’m skipping a wedding, 10 year college reunion, and Thanksgiving w family. But this might be amazing enough for me to hop on plane home.

  6. I am really into pumpkin recipes at the moment and this cheesecake sounds amazing. Will certainly be trying it out, thanks!

  7. wish I lived in or near chicago! sounds like a great event.

  8. Already have all three books…just baked their apple caramel cake (from Baked Explorations) less than two weeks ago (omg, it was really extraordinary!)…and the best part is that I live in the area! Clicking over to see ticket details now, yay!

  9. I’m in love with the Baked Boys. So wish I was in Chicago…it sounds like an amazing event!

  10. I loved Baked and I officially have a crush on Matt after meeting him in NYC a few months ago. They sure know a way to a girl’s heart: pumpkin, cinnamon and booze are a few of my favorite things.

  11. These sound unreal! Love it!

  12. This West Coast girl agrees – have this book and love it; great recipes and it’s fantastically written!

  13. These look wonderful!

  14. We are adding these to our holiday must do list!

  15. Sounds like fun. Wish I didn’t live hundreds of miles away! I’ll just have to make pumpkin cheesecake squares and pretend like I’m hanging with you guys!

  16. We just had to move away from Chicago over the summer for a job opportunity elsewhere. Life hasn’t been the same since. Chicago is the best city in America. Have fun at your event, this book is on my Christmas list!

  17. Mmm pumpkin cheesecake is one of my favorite fall baked goods, these make the same flavors so handy and accessible!

  18. I love the ratio of cream cheese icing to pumpkin filling! Looks delicious!

  19. These pumpkin cheesecake squares are gorgeous! Seems like a great book to have!

  20. Hi! just discovered your site and shocked I haven’t seen it before. Living on the northside here with my boyfriend having our own food adventures. love this recipe, making some for the weekend!

  21. ok, i made this, it was an experience to say the least, it took all day and it was not orange at all, the cheescake took an hour to cook… but it tastes very yummy— consistancy is a bit off idk if its because it was overcooked? hmm… thanks tho, i love the website!!! =D

  22. Anne Costello Johnson says:

    October 23rd, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I just bought my ticket for the Floriole event and am really looking forward to it!

  23. Oh, yay, Anne! Glad to hear you’ll be there. Should be a fun night.

  24. So lovely! I’m not anything could be better than pumpkin + cheesecake + cream cheese frosting!

  25. I love reading American baking ideas – this may be one for the winter months!(i live in the UK)

  26. Nicole- I love reading British baking ideas!!

  27. This recipe looks so delicious!!! I think it would be just wonderful at Thanksgiving!

  28. mmmm that last picture is almost enough to make me want to drive hours to chicago to join you!

  29. These look delish! What do you think abotu a graham cracker crust-woudld it be too soggy? I happen to have graham crackers at home so need to improvise!

  30. Hey Sara- You can try, but I probably would not. It would be a major change to the recipe, and I like the recipe. I would make a key lime pie with your graham crackers.

  31. Thanks, I scrapped the graham crackers and these were a hit!! I strongly recommend rolling the dough on pastry.. mine was a bit sticky. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  32. I meant rolling on parch. paper. Food and extra sugar coma!

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