By Karin Calloway

Karin Calloway is a working mom living in Augusta, Ga., with multiple freelance jobs and a ton of dirty dishes.

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bars

It would be hard to imagine the span between Halloween and the New Year without pumpkin. The Jack-O-Lanterns of Halloween, pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and pumpkin trifle or cheesecake on my holiday buffet, all signal the culmination of another year.

During "pumpkin season," I whip up a batch of these delicious Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bars when pressed for time. A package of gingerbread mix is turned into a crust beneath a luscious pumpkin cheesecake filling. The duet is baked for 40 to 50 minutes, and then is cooled before cutting into squares.

The recipe doesn’t require much measuring, as sweetened condensed milk replaces sugar for a deliciously smooth sweetness. You can dress the bars up by topping each serving with a dollop of whipped cream.

  • 1 14-ounce package gingerbread mix
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 16-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine gingerbread mix, melted butter and 1 egg in a large bowl.  Press into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and set aside.  

Place the cream cheese in a stand mixer or mixing bowl and beat until fluffy.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Blend well and pour over the gingerbread crust.  Sprinkle with the chopped nuts, if desired, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until set.  Cool bars at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.

Makes 12 servings.