It’s that time of year once again; the pumpkins are popping up in every grocer and on neighbors' porches. Giant ones, orange ones, white ones, warty ones, multi-colored ones and, of course, the very versatile pie pumpkin ones. The pie pumpkin can be cleaned, roasted and pureed, then made into delicious pumpkin desserts. Alas, I don’t have the time to roast my own beautiful pumpkin puree, so I use the next best thing -- canned.

Canned pumpkin puree is an easy way to create pumpkin desserts in next-to no time. Pumpkin cheesecake happens to be one of my favorites. It is rich, creamy and delicious with the addition of Madagascar 2-fold vanilla extract.

Beanilla Madagascar 2-fold extract is made from premium vanilla beans that is a favorite among chefs around the world. This traditional type of vanilla adds an incredibly full flavor to any style of dessert. Beanilla’s 2-fold Madagascar vanilla extract is made with twice the amount of vanilla beans, adding an intense vanilla flavor to pumpkin cheesecake squares.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Square w/Pepita Brittle RecipeYields 16 squares



3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from five 4 3/4- by 2 1/4-inch crackers)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon Madagascar 2x fold vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature



Stir together crumbs, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of a 9x13 pan lined with parchment and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust 1 hour.

Filling and bake cheesecake:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla in a mixer with whisk attachment until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling onto crust, smoothing top into a 9x13 pan lined w/parchment paper. Add a second pan of water to the bottom shelf in the oven. Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Pepita Brittle:


1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. Light corn syrup
3/4 Tsp. Cayenne pepper
2 cups (about 8 ounces) pepitas (hulled pumpkin seed), lightly toasted


Lay out a 9x13 sheet of parchment paper on a pan

In a small bowl, stir together the cayenne and salt. Measure out the pepitas (pumpkin seeds), cayenne, and salt.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, water, and corn syrup and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat and boil until the syrup turns a gorgeous golden brown and measures about 335°F [168°C] on a candy thermometer, which ought to take 10 to 15 minutes. Do not stir the mixture, although when the sugar begins to brown around the edges of the pan, gently tilt the pan to swirl the syrup so it caramelizes evenly. When the caramel reaches the desired amber color throughout, immediately remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the pepitas and cayenne mixture. (Stand back a little, as chances are the mixture will bubble and the pepitas may “pop”.)

Immediately pour the caramel into the prepared pan. If necessary, use a spatula or wooden spoon to spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer. Let the brittle stand at room temperature until cool and hard, about 1 hour.

To release the brittle from the pan, run a spatula underneath the brittle and bend the opposite ends of the pan a little. If that doesn’t work, simply chop or break the brittle into chunks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.