Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall and Friends

It's fall, it's fall, it's fall, YAY!  The weather is finally changing and the crisp fall air that tickles my bones is upon us.  There is something super magical about fall to me, and it always seems to lighten my mood.  Maybe it's the fresh, cool air when you wake up in the morning, or maybe it's the colors of the leaves, or maybe it's just that overall feeling of change and progress.  Whatever the reason, fall makes me happy.

Columbus day hike to Naonet Woodlands in Dover, MA
You know what else makes me happy?  Friends.  MSPP has given me so many new friends so far, and I am so grateful for every single one of them.  A few of us that are in almost every class together have formed a reading group to make our weeks less painful, and that has created a tremendous sense of solidarity and collaboration, which also lessens the stress.  However, as wonderful as it is sitting next to these amazing people for 7 hour stretches at a time, we really don't get to see each other outside of school.  We decided to have weekly study "parties," where we can do work, eat yummy snacks, and catch up on lives outside of grad school.

I hosted the first one this weekend, and since we are now officially in fall baking mode, I had to make something pumpkiny.  I chose pumpkin cheesecake bars.  Good choice, self.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars w/ a Caramel Swirl
Recipe loosely adapted from Taste of Home
Yield: 1 9x13" pan

2 cups finely ground gingersnap cookie crumbs (just use a food processor- it's the easiest)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 8oz packages reduced fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 15oz can pumpkin
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp all-spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
caramel sauce (optional)

Ingredients (missing the eggs and caramel)
Grind up ginger snap cookies in a food processor until fine
Place cookie crumbs in a 9x13" baking dish, pour butter over crumbs, and mix well until all the crumbs are coated.  Press firmly covering the bottom of the pan.  Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
First, beat the cream cheese until soft and fluffy.
 Then add sugar until incorporated, followed by the pumpkin, flour, and spices.

Add eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium for 60 seconds. 
You want the batter to be smooth, but you don't want to overbeat it because it will sink and crack during baking.
Spread batter evenly over cookie base, then drizzle lines of caramel sauce along the top
To create the swirls, run a toothpick perpendicular through the caramel lines
Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, until the middle is just nearly set (it should still be a little jiggly/shiny).
 Allow to cool on a wire rack for one hour, and then refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

Here's hoping everyone has some wonderful friends to enjoy the fall with.

Love and cookies,

1 comment:

  1. Hannah!! I love you but need your address <3