Maple Butternut Cream Cheese Bars

Another no-processed-sugar baking adventure with the 3yo using random ingredients in our kitchen! We had half a cooked butternut squash left over and a bar of cream cheese that had come out of the freezer with a wonky texture (won’t do THAT again!), so cheesecake-swirl-bars it was!

This is adapted from this recipe which in turn came from Our Lady of Baked Goodness, Martha. This version is not so sweet, so if you’re craving sweets, add brown sugar. Also, using maple syrup instead of sugar messes with your liquid ratios, so pay attention to your batter.Photo on 1-18-16 at 10.39 AM


For the batter:

  • 1 stick butter, at room temp
  • 1/4C maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2t vanilla
  • 1/2C squash or pumpkin puree (I suppose you could use banana, too)
  • 1.5C flour
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1/4t salt
  • ‘pumpkin pie’ spices to taste (I used about 1/2t each of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg)

For the swirl:

  • 1/2 pk cream cheese, completely soft (heat a bit if necessary)
  • 1T maple syrup
  • 1 small egg (or half a large one – we fed the remainder to our cat)
  • 1/2t vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • spices to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 350′ and grease a glass pie plate or the equivalent size pan (whatever that is – 8″ square? I dunno)
  • Cream together the butter and maple syrup, then add the egg and vanilla, and mix until totally combined. Add in the squash puree and blend.
  • Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  • Combine wet and dry until mixed completely, but don’t overmix. Batter will be sludgy and thick, but still stirrable.
  • For the swirl, blend together all swirl ingredients. Add a bit more maple syrup if it seems too thick.
  • Spread a thin layer of the batter in the bottom of the pan, and then dollop on the cream cheese mix in a random pattern. Fill in any spaces with dollops of the batter until it’s all in the pan.
  • Carefully and slowly, take a knife and twirl or swirl a design (or whatever) with the cream cheese and the batter, carefully blending. It’ll be sludgy and thick, so go slowly and be thoughtful (or not, it’ll all taste the same). You may want to tap the pan flat on the counter to get the batter to flatten out when you’re done.
  • Bake for 35-40 mins at 350′, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool completely to room temperature before slicing.
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