Turkey day pumpkin cheesecake bars make a super fun Thanksgiving dessert
Move over pumpkin pie! These pumpkin cheesecake bars made with a buttery graham cracker crust and two layers of cheesecake filling is the perfect dessert for your Thanksgiving table. Simple turkeys piped on top with leftover cheesecake batter make these the cutest pumpkin cheesecake bars ever!
Although I love me some pumpkin pie, sometimes I just want to try something new and fun. So when it came time to bake a dessert for Ezra’s November monthly baby photo, I took the opportunity to experiment.
I love how the orange from the pumpkin bars compliments the blues of the plates and Ezra’s blanket. The final photo turned out so cute but seriously took so long. I am already regretting this decision to be so extra with his photos.
A new take on pumpkin cheesecake bars
I knew I wanted to incorporate pumpkin somehow but I didn’t want to do the same old marbled cheesecake bars I see everywhere. I was inspired by some Thanksgiving latte art and wondered if I could make something similar with a cheesecake batter to make a Turkey.
Honestly, my first try was a mess. A latte artist I am not. But the second try was a bit better. The key to getting those perfect turkey feathers was to make three thin egg-shaped ovals and then use a skewer to make the feathers.
For the turkey body, I just added about one tablespoon of cocoa powder to 1/4 cup of leftover pumpkin batter and piped the body right on top. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the designs held their shape really well in the oven.
If you don’t want to make the turkeys then you totally can just marble the topping by swirling a little of the white batter onto the pumpkin layer but I really think you should give the turkeys a try! They are so cute!
Tips for pumpkin cheesecake bar success
- Make sure you really press down your layer of graham crackers so after baking they release from the pan and don’t stick.
- Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature before creaming in the mixer to avoid getting lumps in your batter
- Use pumpkin puree NOT pumpkin pie filling
- Freeze your first layer of cheesecake batter for defined layers
- For thicker cheesecake bars, double the recipe and bake in a 9″x13″ cake pan instead of a cookie sheet.
- Chill your pumpkin cheesecake bars overnight before serving so they are easier to cut
Want more? Check out these other recipes!
Turkey Day Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- 8 oz crushed graham crackers about 10 whole crackers
- 4 oz butter melted
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 10 oz sugar
- 32 oz cream cheese room temp
- 4 eggs room temp
- 15 oz pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 9"x13" metal baking pan
- Preheat oven to 325ºF degrees. Place a 1/2 sheet baking pan on the bottom rack and fill halfway with hot water.Note: It is easier to pour water in the pan when it is already in the oven.
- For the crust, mix the crushed graham crackers, butter and first measurement of cinnamon in a bowl and combine.
- Pour into a 9x13 baking pan and firmly press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan with the flat side of a measuring cup. Freeze for 20 minutes.Note: Be sure to press really well, this will prevent the bars from sticking to the pan.
- Place the softened cream cheese in a stand mixer with the paddle attachments. Mix on low until smooth then sprinkle in the sugar and mix until combined
- While mixing on low, add in the eggs one at a time, letting each one incorporate before adding the next. Then add your vanilla and mix on low until combined. Make sure to keep your mixing on low so you don't incorporate air and scrape your bowl as needed.
- Divide your cheesecake mixture in half and pour one half over your chilled crust reserving about 1/2 cup for the final decoration. Place your baking pan back in the freezer for 40 min or until the cheesecake layer is firm.
- Add the pumpkin puree and spices to your remaining batter and mix until combined.
- Gently pour the pumpkin cheesecake mixture over frozen cheesecake mixture and spread evenly, reserve 1/4 cup of pumpkin batter for the turkey bodies.
- Combine leftover pumpkin batter with the cocoa powder and stir to combine
- Using a knife, score the top of the pumpkin layer to mark 12 even sections so you have a guide.
- Put the reserved 1/2 cup of the cheesecake mixture into a piping bag. Snip off a small amount of the tip and can carefully pipe bulls-eye in each section. Use a toothpick to drag from the outside of the circle to the bottom center of the bulls-eye. This will make "feathers" for your turkey.
- Pipe the body of your turkey, head and a little beak. Also, pipe a line around the outside of your feathers.
- Place in oven and bake for 40 min or until the center is no longer jiggly. Chill before cutting and serving.