With a tangy, rich flavor and velvety consistency, cheesecake’s characteristic qualities make it well-suited to variation: Lemon cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake, and berry cheesecake are all common. But our favorite variation might just be pumpkin cheesecake.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Start to finish: 3 hours
1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
15 whole graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) plus 1 1/3 cups (9 1/3 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
Cook pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 6 to 8 minutes. Let pumpkin mixture cool for 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Make foil sling for 13 by 9-inch baking pan by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil; first sheet should be 13 inches wide and second sheet should be 9 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges of pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan. Grease foil.
Process graham crackers, 1/4 cup sugar, and ginger in food processor to fine crumbs, about 15 seconds. Add melted butter and pulse until combined, about 5 pulses. Sprinkle mixture into prepared pan and press firmly into even layer. Bake until just starting to brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Let crust cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat cream cheese and remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar on medium-low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, vanilla, and pumpkin mixture and mix until combined. Increase speed to medium; add eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Pour filling over crust and spread into even layer.
Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cheesecake cool completely in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Using foil overhang, lift cheesecake from pan. Cut into 24 pieces before serving.