When I discovered that pumpkin was used for desserts other than pumpkin pie, well, it was a very happy time in my life. The day that brought me pumpkin ice cream lives large in my memory. Pumpkin cheesecake day was another. So it’s safe to say that stumbling on this recipe for butternut squash cheesecake bars from Eating Well magazine was cause for excitement.
Butternut, in my opinion, is almost as sweet and flavorful as pumpkin–and the rich texture of the nutritious squash adds even more. Personally, I am a bit reckless with fat and will probably add the full-fat cream cheese version to my repertoire, but at least I’ll balance that out by using a non-refined sweetener such as Sucanat, or maybe even maple syrup.
9 low-fat graham crackers, (4 1/2-ounces)
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, (not quick-cooking or steel-cut)
2 Tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided (or try one a natural sweetener, read more here)
1/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons non-fat milk
1 (8-ounce) package non-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchatel), at room temperature
1/2 cup Butternut squash purée
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
Process graham crackers, oats, 2 Tablespoons sugar, 1/4 cup flour and butter in a food processor until finely ground.
Add milk; pulse until completely moistened.
Transfer the graham cracker mixture to the prepared pan and evenly pat into the bottom.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, reduce oven temperature to 325ºF.
Beat both cream cheeses and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, scraping down the sides occasionally.
Beat in squash purée until smooth.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Finally, beat in vanilla, cinnamon, salt and the remaining 3 Tablespoons flour.
Scrape the filling into the pan, spreading evenly over the crust.
Bake until set and the edges are light brown, about 35 minutes.
Let cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.
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