Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars encapsulate all the best flavors of Fall in one delicious dessert.
When I first started becoming interested in cooking and baking back in high school I remember baking a pumpkin chocolate cheesecake similar to this recipe.
The memory is a little fuzzy, but I recall being excited about how something I managed to make could be so insanely delicious. I wish I could remember the recipe or at least which magazine I tore it from.
It was that first sense of gratification and accomplishment from a recipe turning out better than expected that motivated me to keep trying new things in the kitchen. I went on to try making flourless chocolate cake and tiramisu and became totally hooked on baking.
That feels like forever ago, and now I can’t imagine my life without baking!
Baking is almost meditative for me. It’s totally calming and grounding – and even better that there’s a delicious reward in the end.
I absolutely love this time of year for baking, so I can’t wait to share these fantastic fall cheesecake bars with you!
How to Make Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
The Trick for Smooth & Luscious Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
Make sure all of your ingredients are completely at room temperature. The cream cheese must be totally softened. Also, be sure to use bricks of full-fat cream cheese. If it’s a cold day, then the cream cheese will need to sit on the counter for several hours or you may need to nuke it in the microwave until it’s utterly soft (but not melted).
For a smooth lump-free texture, be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of your mixing bowl thoroughly after adding every ingredient. Even if you have a beater attachment that scrapes as it goes. Those don’t always catch everything, especially at the very bottom of the bowl.
Luckily cheesecake bars are easier and more forgiving than full-size cheesecake.
Graham Cracker Crust Variations
This Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars recipe calls for a chocolate graham cracker cookie crust, but in some places, those can be hard to find. You could also use the same amount by weight of any of the following:
How to Make Beautiful Chocolate Swirls
Drop dollops of the chocolate cheesecake batter evenly on top of the pumpkin cheesecake layer, and then use a butter knife to swirl. The key here is to not overuse the knife, otherwise, the swirls become too messy and blend together too much.
Use a Metal Pan for Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars!
I highly recommend using a light-colored 8×8-inch metal pan like this one for these Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars. I do not recommend using a glass or ceramic pan for baking cheesecake. Learn more about this in my Glass vs. Metal Baking Pans article here.
How to Tell When Cheesecake Bars are Done Baking
You’re looking for the edges of the cheesecake to be slightly golden and darkened in color and for the top of the cheesecake to look dry. The key is for the center to remain slightly jiggly. It will continue to cook from the residual heat even after being removed from the oven and then will firm up and fully set in the fridge.
How to Prevent Cheesecake Cracks
- Avoid overbeating the batter and exposing the cheesecake to sudden changes in temperature.
- Allow the cheesecake to completely cool to room temperature after baking before chilling.
- You can even let it cool in the oven with the heat off for 15 minutes before allowing it to cool to room temp.
How to Freeze Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
Place the chilled Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars (cut or uncut) in the freezer until firm and frozen. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, wrap it well in heavy-duty aluminum foil, and place in a resealable container. Store for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before serving.
More Cheesecake Recipes:
For the crust:
(150 grams) chocolate graham crackers*
(85 grams) unsalted butter,
For the filling:
(454 grams) cream cheese,
completely softened to room temperature
(200 grams) granulated sugar
(244 grams) canned pure pumpkin puree
at room temperature
Make the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In a food processor, pulse the crackers until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until moistened. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan using the bottom of a measuring cup, shot glass, or tart tamper. Bake until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Maintain oven temperature.
Make the filling:
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, sugar, and pumpkin at medium-high speed until completely smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add the flour, spices, and salt and beat until combined. Be careful not to overbeat.
Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Add 1 cup cheesecake batter and stir to combine.
Pour the pumpkin cheesecake batter into the prepared pan.
Drop dollops of the chocolate batter mixture on top of the pumpkin layer, and swirl with a butter knife. Bake at 350°F until the edges are slightly golden and the cheesecake is set but still slightly jiggly in the center, about 40 minutes. Do not overbake.
Place the cheesecake on a cooling rack to cool completely in pan. Cover and chill in the fridge until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days. Using the parchment overhang, transfer cheesecake to a cutting board to cut into squares before serving.
*If you cannot find chocolate graham crackers, use the same amount by weight of Chocolate Teddy Grahams or chocolate wafer cookies instead.
This post was originally published in 2012 and recently updated with recipe improvements, tips, and new photos. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.