"Breaking the world record pumpkin weight has become an annual event. So, it's no surprise to learn that the record was indeed broken again this year. What is a surprise, was the weight, a record smashing 1,810.5 pounds! Chris Stevens of New Richmond, Wisc., brought his 1,810.5 pound pumpkin, to the Stillwater Harvest fest in Stillwater, Minnesota, on October 9, 2010." - pumpkinnook.com.
Go, Chris! I truly love all things pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin creme brulee, pumpkin puree, pumpkin-spice latte, pumpkin mole, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin tagine, and now pumpkin-gingersnap cheesecake bars.
These dessert bars combine textures and tastes in a satisfyingly fall-like way. They're easy to make, easy to serve and easy to like. I adapted the recipe from cravingchronicles.com.
Pumpkin-gingersnap cheesecake bars
2 cups finely-crushed Pamela's Ginger-Mini Snapz
1⁄4 cup salted butter, melted
1⁄3 cup pureed pumpkin
1 Tbsp. tapioca flour
1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. ginger
1⁄4 tsp. cloves
3 8-oz. packages softened cream cheese (I used Neufchatel, a lower-fat version)
1 cup granulated sugar
11⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Combine the crushed (I used a food processor) ginger-snaps and melted butter in a bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes and set it aside to cool.
Stir together the pumpkin, tapioca flour, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium-sized bowl.
In a larger mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the sugar and the vanilla and beat until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate completely after each addition.
Stir 11⁄2 cups of the cream cheese batter into the pumpkin mixture until it is smooth. Pour the remaining cream cheese batter over the cooled crust. Spread the pumpkin batter evenly over the cream cheese batter.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center is set. Cool at room temperature for an hour, then chill for a few hours more before cutting the cheesecake into bars.
For a dairy-free version, use margarine instead of butter in the crust and use the Tofutti "better than cream cheese" instead of regular.
Carson City's gluten-free discussion group meets next at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church on Division and Telegraph streets.
Also, my next (and, sadly, my last) baking class through Truckee Meadows Community College will be held on Dec. 12 - it's a gluten-free holiday cooking party. Register through TMCC if you're interested. It's a fun time, and we each take home several kinds of cookies.
• Susan Hart has been cooking gluten-free for 15 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.