candied pecans and pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars

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I’m sick.

Well, sort of.  It’s the kind of creeping, dulled, background sick that makes me sniffle and cough and generally gross out my friends and coworkers, but it’s not flaring up into a fever or anything identifiable that would result in a more definite beginning and ending of sick.  It’s just here, and it’s getting in the way.

Enough of that.  Let’s talk about these pecans, which you will immediately regret making, because you will eat them all within 15 minutes of taking them out of the oven and then be sorry for not making a larger batch.  Because your friends might like to try the half of that second pan that you don’t also eat.  There is danger here.

I made these for a P-themed party (the letter, not the word) and decided on pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars to go with them.  Also dangerous.  They turned out a little less swirly than I would have liked, but I don’t think anyone was looking.  I was more focused on the nice thick crust…and also on not eating the entire pan.

I’m off to be lethargic and nurse my neckache.  Hopefully, while I’m feeling sorry for myself, you’ll go try at least one of these recipes out and possibly make yourself wish you were passed out on the couch for a much more pleasant reason.

 

Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Adapted from Deb, but you can find them just about anywhere

I didn’t go for the “spice” part – maybe another time, but I wanted to make these as universally likable as I could.  I upped the salt (perhaps a tiny bit too much – my recommendation is below) and they were irresistible.

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt [*Alli's note: I'd go with 1 1/2 tsp]
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper [*Alli's note: I omitted this, because I am boring]
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts [*Alli's note: I went with pecans]
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne (if using), and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside.

Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts; stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated.

Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool [*Alli's note: Ha!  Good luck making it that long], pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.

 

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Peabody

I made quite a few changes to this recipe to convert it to bars as opposed to a cake; I’ve written in here as I made it.

1 1/2 packages graham crackers, ground into crumbs
1/4 to 1/2 cup melted butter

2 8-pz. packages cream cheese [*Alli's note: I swapped one out for reduced-fat; these were being taken to the home of a friend who's getting married next year and will often scream "FAT BRIDE!  FAT BRIDE!" when desserts are put in front of her]
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp flour
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter.  Start with the smaller amount of butter, and increase until the crumbs stick together nicely when pinched. Press onto the bottom of 9×9 baking pan, bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Beat the cheese until soft. Add in the sugar; mix well. Add the flour and mix to blend.

Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Mix in yolks and vanilla.

Remove a little less than half of the batter and to a separate bowl bowl.  Stir in the pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Starting with the plain batter, layer the two batters on top of the crust (aim for three layers of plain and two of pumpkin). Swirl gently with a knife for a marblized look.

Place the pan with the bars in a larger pan (I used a 13×9). Place in the oven; pour in hot water to create a water bath.  Bake approximately 2 hours. A thin knife inserted in the center should come out almost clean.

Cool the cake, then chill. Let sit overnight before cutting.

 

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