Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars — Low-Carb, Grain-free, Gluten-free, Sugar-free

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars have been one of our family’s favorite holiday treats for years. Every fall, when the first bounty of pumpkin hits store shelves, this is the first thing I make. However, over the past year, the way  I’ve been feeding our family has changed a bit. With all of the emerging research suggesting that sugar (glucose) is the root cause of inflammation, I’ve been trying to keep a few less treats around the house. We are in no way a completely sugar-free home, but we are trying to do better.  Luckily, there are some great substitutions for sugar and white flour, so I’ve been playing around a bit. If I’m going to be honest, I have to admit that I’ve had some really great successes, but I’ve also had some really big failures.

These pumpkin cheesecake bars were a success on the very first try.

My original version had just a bit of flour, so I knew that it would be an easy conversion. I used super-fine almond flour in place of the all purpose flour, and then relied on the oils from the pecans and egg yolk to bind the crust. To prevent the cheesecake custard from seeping into the crust, I decided to par-bake the crust for 8 minutes. This is why you can see such a great separation of the layers in the photo above.

For the sugars, I knew that I wanted to use some form of erythritol. Erythritol is a natural sweetener that is found in our bodies, some fruits, and fermented foods. After reading many reviews, I knew I wanted to use either Swerve sweetener or Wholesome sweetener. Because erythritol is only 60%-70% as sweet as table sugar, many suggest using 1 1/3 cups of the Wholesome sweetener for every one cup of table sugar. However, I did not find this necessary for this recipe. Swerve sweetener states that it can be used cup for cup. My only remaining problem was that I love the flavor of brown sugar in my cheesecake crust. Neither of these brands offer an brown sugar alternative. However, brown sugar is simply white sugar with molasses, so I decided to throw in just a smidge to create the depth I was after. It worked perfectly.

If you’re looking for an alternative to a sugar and flour laden desserts this Thanksgiving, or just want to keep something in the fridge to satisfy your afternoon sweet tooth, find these ingredients and make this now!

PS — I demonstrated how to make these pumpkin cheesecake bars on the Whole Foods Facebook Live stream last Friday. Pop on over to the Healthnut Foodie Facebook page to check out the replay and see just how easy these are to make.

Gobble gobble.

Katie

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

For the ginger-pecan crust:
1 1/2 cups pecans
1/4 cup super-fine almond flour
1/2 cup Swerve sweetener (or Wholesome erythritol)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp molasses
1/4 tsp real salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature

For the pumpkin cheesecake:
16 oz real cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs

1/2 cup Swerve sweetener (or Wholesome erythritol)

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin, homemade or canned
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp pure vanilla
1/4 tsp real salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare your ginger-pecan crust: Except for the butter and egg yolk, place all ingredients listed under “for the ginger-pecan crust” in the bowl of a food processor. Using the blade attachment, pulse for about a minute, until the consistency of a course flour. Add the butter and egg yolk. Pulse for another minute, until egg and butter are dispersed and all dry ingredients are damp.

Bake your crust: Line an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Pour contents of food processor onto parchment paper. Using clean hands, press down tightly to make as even and compact crust as possible. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.

While crust bakes, prepare the custard for your cheesecake: Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer (or your handheld mixer), cream room temperature cream cheese and eggs for about two minutes, until mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down bowl, add erythritol and cream for another 30 seconds. Add all remaining ingredients listed under “for the pumpkin cheesecake”. Using low speed, blend all ingredients just until combined.

When crust has baked for 8 minutes, remove from oven, place on a wire rack to cool slightly, and turn oven down to 350 degrees.

When oven has reached 350 degrees, bake your cheesecake: Pour cheesecake custard over crust. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. When 30 minutes have lapsed, turn off oven. LEAVE CHEESECAKE IN OVEN and allow it to set for 90 minutes! IN THE OVEN WITH THE DOOR CLOSED!!! (Sorry for yelling.) This will prevent the cheesecake from cracking. When 90 minutes have lapsed, remove cheesecake from oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to completely cool. When thoroughly cooled, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, remove parchment paper from pan and cut into 20 squares. Arrange bars on a beautiful platter plate, serve and enjoy! (If not serving all of the bars in one setting, only cut as many as you need. This will prevent the individual pieces from drying out.)

Notes: If you’ve never made cheesecake before, please do not be nervous. The instructions are lengthy, but thorough. If you follow them as written, you should have fantastic results. This is really a very simple recipe, and a great introduction to low-carb, grain-free baking. These pumpkin cheesecake bars will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week.

Want to make this your healthiest holiday season ever?

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