Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars


There seem to be two schools of thought about Thanksgiving desserts. Those who must have pumpkin pie and those who avoid anything pumpkin, other than the spice mix. I am squarely in the pumpkin camp and so is my whole family, but if you or someone you love is not, these Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars are the perfect way to ease into using the Thanksgiving essential and give a loving gesture to those who adore pumpkin. The base of these bars comes from Michelle Lopez’s new book Weeknight Baking, which is made up of great recipes that are quick and easy enough to fit into everyone’s busy schedule, even at the holidays. I added the swirl of pumpkin, which is also super easy and fast, but makes them just right for this week. Michelle has lots of great ideas for jazzing up the cheesecake bars and once you see my technique for swirling, you can add your own flair. You can easily make these in time for the big Turkey Day and I suggest making a double batch, so you have leftovers to snack on and stick into school lunches. 

GIVEAWAY! Not only did Michelle graciously allow me to share the recipe with you, but she’s also doing a giveaway of the book. Leave a comment below or on my instagram account for a chance to win a copy of Weeknight Baking.

You can watch me swirl the cheesecake bars on my Instagram account and the recipe lives below.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars

by Michelle Lopez’s book Weeknight Baking

Makes one 8″-square pan (about 16 bars) – I made them twice and the second time I made a double batch and baked it in a 9×13″ pan, which resulted in a slightly thicker bar, so the baking time was increased by about 10 minutes.


1 1/2 cups (165g) graham cracker crumbs

6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons (30g) sugar 

Pinch salt

Cheesecake batter: 

1 1/2 cups (350g) cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup (100g) sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, make your own

1/2 cup (112g) sour cream (creme fraiche or greek yogurt also works), room temperature

Pumpkin swirl:

1/4 cup pumpkin puree – roasted and pureed or canned

1 teaspoon pumpkin spice blend

1 teaspoon vanilla

To make the crust: 

Preheat oven to 325°F

Line  an 8-inch square cake pan with a sheet of aluminum foil that goes up the sides.

Mix together all the ingredients and press it into the prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until just toasty and golden brown.

To make the filling: 

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I really like the rubber edged attachment for this. Less scraping the bowl), mix the cream cheese on low speed until smooth. Add the sugar and mix until incorporated, scrape the bowl often. Add eggs one at a time, scraping bowl between them. Mix in sour cream. 

Separate out 1/2 cup of the filling into a bowl and add pumpkin puree, spices and vanilla. Place the pumpkin cheesecake mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip or a squeeze bottle. 

Pour the remaining plain cheesecake over the baked crust and shimmy to settle it flat. Pipe the pumpkin cheesecake over the top of the plain in a zigzag pattern, then draw a toothpick through it in the opposite direction to create the swirly or marbled pattern. 

Bake in a waterbath (this will help keep the shape of the swirls) for about 30-35 minutes until the cheesecake is set, but still wobbles in the center. Cool completely on a wire rack, then chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight (I cheated and after they were room temperature, I put them in the freezer for 45 minutes and cut them.) 

Use the overhanging foil to lift the bars out of the pan. To cut the cheesecake dip a sharp knife in hot water. 


Thank you Michelle for sending me the book, it is so lovely and fun to bake from! 

The winners of the Bread Baking Package are: Emily, Kristina and Ruth. Happy baking and I can’t wait to see what fabulous breads you bake.