I’m a cereal fan. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Although Captain Crunch will always hold a place deep in my heart, I have tried to find cereals more suited to my adult needs. But that does not mean I want to eat a cereal that I feel is better suited to the horses in the stable down the street.
I recently got a new cereal from Nature’s Path Organic called Flax Plus Maple Pecan Crunch, and as soon as I took the first bite I started thinking of what I could make with it. The maple, cinnamon and pecan flavor reminded me of something, but I could not put my finger on it. Then I realized it would pair well with sweet potatoes.
A sweet potato pie! But I don’t really like sweet potato pie. Next!
A sweet potato pudding with a cereal crust. I don’t know… kind of strange.
Sweet potato cheesecake… no sweet potato cheesecake bars! That’s it! Well, that wasn’t quite it. Somewhere along the way my cheesecake bars turned into gooey bars. But the flavor was so good, and the creamy, gooey texture was nice too. Not cheesecake, but I liked it.
The great thing about this dessert is that you can use leftover roasted sweet potatoes, if you have them. In fact, I would recommend roasting your potatoes instead of boiling them for better flavor when making these.
Sweet Potato Pie Gooey Bars
1 1/2 cups Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Maple Pecan Crunch
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, slightly softened
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
3 cups cooked sweet potato, about 4 small
2 TB light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
pecan halves (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the cereal into a thick plastic zip top bag. Crush the cereal with a rolling pin, or other heavy object. Do not make the crumbs as fine as the graham cracker crumbs, but leave them a little bigger for added texture in the crust.
In a medium bowl combine the cereal, graham cracker crumbs and sugar.
Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and mix well until moistened. The crumbs should hold together when you pinch them. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Press the crumbs into the pan, making an even crust. Bake the crust for 6-8 minutes, until crisp and slightly browned. Let the crust cool completely.
Sweet Potato Pie Topping
While the crust is cooling, beat the cream cheese until smooth in a food processor. I used a food processor because sweet potatoes often are stringy, and wanted to make sure my batter was smooth.
Add the sweetened condensed milk and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the sweet potato, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice. Beat until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
Pour the topping onto the cooled crust. Using a spatula spread the topping out to the edges of the crust.
At this point you can place it in the refrigerator to firm up, or decorate it with the pecan halves. I used the pecan halves to mark the area to cut the bars. These are very rich, so I made decided to make them small.
These bars need to chill for at least 8 hours to overnight. Once completely chilled the topping is still soft, but will hold it’s shape when cut. But don’t attempt to pick them up with your fingers to eat them. Which is what my sister Karen called to inform me after I gave her some.
Karen: “They taste really good, but they don’t seem very cheesecakey to me. When I picked it up it broke apart, so I had to lick my fingers.”
Me: “That’s why they are called gooey bars, not cheesecake bars.”
Whatever they are, I hope you make them and enjoy them.