Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars (Chocolate Optional)

Ingredient List
For the crust:
20 chocolate wafer cookies
Or
1 ½ packages of graham crackers (9oz)
2 tbs sugar
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted
For the filing:
2 pkgs bar cream cheese (8 oz, each)
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
3 tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp salt
*3 - 4 oz semisweet chocolate (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line bottom of 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.

In a food processor, blend cookies with sugar until finely ground (about 1 cup of crumbs); add butter, and pulse until moistened.

Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan, and press gently into bottom.  Bake until fragrant and slightly firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Place cream cheese in food processor; blend until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, flour, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; process until combined. Set aside.

*If using chocolate
Place chocolate in microwave safe bowl; microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each, until melted. Add 1 cup of the pumpkin mixture to the chocolate; stir to combine. Set aside.
Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into prepared pan.  Drop dollops of chocolate mixture onto pumpkin mixture; swirl. **To create swirls, drag the blade of a pairing knife through the chocolate & pumpkin mixtures several times to make a marbled pattern.**

Bake until cheesecake is set but jiggles slightly when gently shaken, about 40  to 50 minutes.

Cool in pan.  Cover; chill until firm, at least 2 hours (and up to 1 day). Using overhang, transfer cake to work surface. With a knife dipped in water, cut into squares. Serve.
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