I wanted to try a new dessert for Thanksgiving this year, so when a recipe with the words “pumpkin“, “chocolate“, AND “cheesecake” in the title graced my inbox, it sounded impossible to resist! Well, I’m happy to report that the finished product is impossible to resist too… a rich & creamy pumpkin top layer with a buttery chocolate & graham cracker crust. DELICIOUS!
Read on for a step-by-step pictorial + the full recipe.
And if you already have your turkey day desserts covered this year – not to worry because these dreamy little bars would be fabulous for Christmas & New Year’s too! There’s something about the combo of pumpkin & chocolate that just makes it feel like the holidays…
Most of these ingredients are basics that you might already have in your pantry/fridge – especially during the holiday season!
1. Start by creating the graham cracker crumbs. You can use a food processor like I did, or just crumble and pound them out in a zip-loc the old fashioned way!
2. Mix 1/4 cup sugar + 1/3 cup butter into the crumbs.
3. Pour the crumbs into a pan, spread out evenly, and pat down with a spatula. Set the pan aside for now.
4. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese + 1-3/4 cups sugar together.
5. Gradually beat in eggs, one at a time until mixture is smooth.
6. Next, add the canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, and salt.
7. Beat until smooth. Separate 1-1/4 cups of this pumpkin mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.
8. Next, melt the chocolate and butter. You can use the stovetop or your microwave to melt the chocolate – just be careful not to overheat it or it will get too thick & grainy. Here are some helpful videos on melting chocolate chips and melting chocolate in general.
9. Once the chocolate is smooth, mix in the 1-1/4 cups pumpkin mixture that you separated out from the big batch earlier.
Tip: The chocolate doesn’t need to be super runny like chocolate syrup – although if you’re able to get it that way, kudos to you! Mine was more creamy than runny, but it still combined just fine with the pumpkin mixture.
The final chocolate-pumpkin mixture will look something like this:
10. Spread the chocolate-pumpkin mixture evenly on top of the graham cracker crust then bake for 15 minutes.
Tip:Some of the graham crackers may want to lift into the chocolate while you’re spreading it out, so take your time. The good news is that it doesn’t have to look perfect! (There will be another layer on top of this one eventually.)
11. After the chocolate layer is baked for 15 minutes, pull the pan out of the oven and pour the rest of the pumpkin mixture on top, spreading out evenly. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 40 minutes.
12. Pull the pan from the oven and let cool for about 30 minutes. Once cool, mix the sour cream and sugar together, then spread it evenly across the top to create the final layer.
13. Chill for at least 3 hours, then pull from the fridge & cut into bars. The inside should look something like this… YUM!!
14. Decorate the bars with sprinkles of pumpkin pie spice and shaved chocolate. To create these chocolate shavings, I just took a potato peeler to squares of semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate. Super easy!
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut up, or 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/4 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
Garnish: pinch of pumpkin pie spice + chocolate curls or chocolate shavings
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside. 2. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar. Stir in the 1/3 cup melted butter. Press mixture evenly into bottom of the prepared baking pan; set aside. 3. 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. 4. Beat in pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and salt on low speed just until combined. Remove 1-1/4 cups of the mixture. 5. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the 6 ounces chocolate 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. 6. 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. 7. 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. Makes 24 to 36 bars.
Test Kitchen Tip:
To make triangle-shape bars, cut the cookies crosswise into four strips.
Then cut each strip into five triangles (you’ll end up with two half-triangles from the ends of each strip).
To Make Ahead:
Bake and chill cookies as directed; cut into bars.
Place in a single layer in an airtight container; cover.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Do not freeze.