Pumpkin-chevre-cream cheese bars

There is just practically no limit to the dishes I want to make with pumpkin at this time of year. Breads, custards, muffins, bars, side dishes, etc, etc. The vegetable is on my top-10 list. And now that I think of it, it’s not just for this time of year.

One Perfect Bite had this up today, and I am tweaking it to add chevre in place of one third the cream cheese. This substitution cuts the fat and makes the bars healthier…if you can get fresh chevre, the flavor will be divine.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares…from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:
Crust
1 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup gingerbread cookie crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
Filling
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

8 0unces room temperature fresh goat cheese (chevre)
1 (15 ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2) Combine crust ingredients. Remove 1/2 cup of mixture and set aside. Firmly press remainder of crumbs onto bottom of prepared pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
3) Combine cream cheese, chevre and sugar in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Beat in canned pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, mace, nutmeg, cloves, salt, vanilla and orange zest. Add eggs and heavy cream and beat on low speed until just combined. Pour filling over crust.
4) Bake for 35-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour; then cover and chill for at least 8 hours. I chill them overnight. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs just before cutting cake into squares.

Yield: 20 servings.

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Sublime Lemon Creme Bars

If you have really, really mild chevre (like Birchbark Farm’s Cloud Creme!), you can make this fantastic recipe with chevre substituted for cream cheese:)

Lemon Cream Cheese Nut Bars with Lemon Curd

Delicious lemon cream cheese bars with a brown sugar pecan crust layer.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese or Birchbark Farm plain chevre, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon half-and-half or milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

PREPARATION:

Heat oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, pecans or walnuts, brown sugar, and butter. Using hands, blend ingredients. Dough will be crumbly. Reserve 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture and pat remaining mixture in pan. Bake crust for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, combine the lemon zest, juice, cream cheese, granulated sugar, milk, vanilla, and egg; beat with electric mixer at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl occasionally.

Remove the crust from the oven; pour cream cheese lemon mixture over the baked crust. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture evenly over lemon cheese layer. Bake for 25 minutes longer, or until lightly browned. You can also pour lemon curd on the top (see below). Chill for 2 hours before serving. Cut into bars. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or store in the freezer. Makes about 18 to 24 bars, depending on size.

Lemon Curd on top

Lemon Curd Recipe:

3 large eggs

1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)

1 tablespoon (4 grams) finely shredded lemon zest

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar

4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces

In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn’t form) and refrigerate for up to a week.

Note:  Room temperature lemons provide more juice.  After squeezing, strain the juice to remove any pulp.  Zest is the yellow, sweet-flavored outer rind of the lemon.  A zester or fine grater can be used to remove the rind.  Cold lemons are much easier to grate. Grate lemons just before using as the zest will lose moisture if it sits too long.