Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares

We had our annual end of summer block party late this year, it’s usually in early September.  I live on a dead end street and we like to get together for an annual BBQ pot luck in the cul de sac.  Inspired by the fact that it’s October already, I made some pumpkin cheesecake squares with a ginger snap crust.  Last year I made a family favorite, oatmeal carmelitas.  

Like many of the recipes I develop, this one is a combination of several vegan pumpkin cheesecakes that I found online.  What I liked about this my recipe is that it doesn’t contain any tofu.  I love tofu and eat it often but I really don’t like my desserts to taste like tofu.  However, this recipe is not soy free because the non dairy cream cheese is made from soy.  
I started with a ginger snap cookie crust because it sounded tasty.   I ground the cookies up in a food processor until I got 2 cups of cookie crumbs.  I suggest you break up the cookies before you put them in the processor, they grind more evenly.  Then mix the crumbs with 3 tablespoons of melted Earth Balance butter substitute and press them into an 8”x8” square pan.  It really helps to line the pan with parchment paper first, so that you can easily lift out the cheesecake when it’s done.  
You can make this recipe gluten free by just using gluten free ginger snaps.

The next step is to make the filling.  Wash the cookie crumbs from your food processor and then blend together:
A can of pumpkin puree - you should try to use organic if you can.
12 oz non dairy cream cheese - I use Tofutti brand, the one without the hydrogenated oils
Maple syrup - but you could substitute dark agave
Coconut palm sugar - I like it because it’s low gylcemic but you could sub brown sugar if you can’t find it.
Cornstarch - you really need to buy organic since most corn is genetically modified 
Vanilla extract, salt, and spices.

Blend everything together until it’s completely smooth.  You may want to stop and scrape down the sides of the processor once or twice.

Pour the filling on top of the crust and bake for about 50 minutes.

When it’s done, let it cool for a half hour or so before you put it in your refrigerator for at least 3 hours to firm up.  You can decorate the top with pecans or whip the remaining cream cheese with a little sugar and pipe a swirl on top.  
You can also make this in an 8” round spring form pan for a more traditional cheesecake which would be perfect for Thanksgiving.  It’s just around the corner.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares (or pie)
Makes 12 squares - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
2 cups ground ginger snaps (I used Midel brand)
3 tablespoons melted butter substitute (I use Earth Balance)
1 can pumpkin puree
12 oz non dairy cream cheese (I use 1 1/2 containers Tofutti brand-non hydrogenated)
1/2 cup maple syrup (or dark agave)
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or sub brown sugar)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 350°
Break up ginger snaps in a food processor and grind until you have 2 cups
Mix the ground cookies with the melted Earth Balance until well blended.
Line an 8” square pan with parchment paper (or the bottom of a spring form pan if you want it round)
Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of the pan
Wash and dry your food processor.
Put the remaining ingredients into the processor and blend until completely smooth.
Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the cookie crust.
Bake for 50 minutes or until the center looks done.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then refrigerate for 3 hours before cutting.


  1. Do the squares have to be refrigerated? I am a pro vegan baker and wanted to know if they would be okay in an un-refrigerated bakery case. thanks!!

  2. You definitely need to refrigerate them before cutting but I do think they would hold up at air temp for a day or two if you refrigerate them at night.