Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pumpkin Coconut Cheesecake Bars with a Coconut Pecan Crust

The title is a mouthful.  The bars are an even more delightful mouthful.  Decadent and silky.  Not overly sweet.  In my mind it brought together the best of Indian cuisine and Southern comfort food.  Spicy, warm, sweet and silken. 

The inspiration from this came from a Facebook conversation with a friend on Christmas Eve.  I needed to bake something.  ANYTHING.  I've been slammed with work from three shows.  That, coupled with the usual Holiday chaos has left me with precious little time to cook, let alone enjoy it.

My friend suggested pie.  After a quick perusal of my pantry I discovered pumpkin puree, coconut milk, pecans and flaked coconut.  Back around  Thanksgiving I had thought about making pumpkin cheesecake bars.  The discovery of the coconut milk teased for a twist...

Cobbled together from recipes at Taste of Home, Alida's Kitchen, and Alaska from Scratch

yields 12 servings

The Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup toasted pecans, finely crushed
5 Tbsp butter, softened
1/3 cup flaked coconut
1/2 tsp ginger

for the filling and topping:
11 ounces light cream cheese
1/3 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
6 oz coconut milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ginger

The Process:
for the crust: 
Preheat the oven to 350

In a large bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the pecans, coconut and ginger.  Reserve about 3/4 cup of the mixture for the topping.

Firmly press the remaining mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a greased 8 inch square baking pan.  Bake for 12- 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

for the filling:
Lower to the oven temperature to 325

In a large bowl cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, corn starch and vanilla until smooth.  Add eggs, and beat on low until combined.  Stir in the coconut milk.

Pour 3/4 cup of the filling into a small bowl. Whisk in the pumpkin, brown sugar and ginger.

Pour the coconut filling over the cooled pecan crust.  Gently dollop the pumpkin filling  over the top.  

Smooth into an even layer, or if desired, gently swirl the pumpkin into the coconut with the tip of a knife for a marbled effect.  Sprinkle with reserved crust.

Bake the bars fro 35-40 minutes or until the filling is mostly set, but still slightly jiggly in the center.  Cool to cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate for at least two hours or preferably over night.

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