Pumpkin gingersnap bars with gingered cream cheese topping
2 cups crushed gingersnap crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups pumpkin puree fresh or canned (1 15-ounce can will do the trick)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of ground ginger
Extra gingersnap crumbs for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Combine the crushed gingersnap crumbs with the melted butter. Press in an even layer into the bottom of a 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together the pumpkin, half-and-half, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and cloves, until well blended. In a small dish, combine the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup of the pumpkin mixture, until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the gingersnap crust.
4. Bake for about 40 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven. Cool at room temperature until no longer hot. Then, cool completely in the refrigerator. Cut into small 1 to 1-1/2-inch squares.
6. Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and a pinch of ground ginger. Use a pastry bag to pipe a bit of the cream cheese topping onto each square. Sprinkle with extra gingersnap crumbs.