Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sweet Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Ginger Snap Crusts

by Darla

Yesterday I admitted my dislike for pumpkin pie. Today, I want to let it be known that my dislike doesn’t extend to all things pumpkin. One of my favorite treats ever is fresh pumpkin bread and I love pumpkin seeds, but even though I don’t like pumpkin pie, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a great substitute for it that I absolutely love!

Pumpkin cheesecake is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert, hands down. I admit, if there’s chocolate, I’ll go for it, but I’ll still have a slice of pumpkin cheesecake too. In my opinion, it’s far superior to pumpkin pie, which I think is nothing short of gross. I make pumpkin cheesecake every year, and it never get’s old.

This year, I decided to try something new, not only by making the cheesecake into minis, but also with the crust. As I said yesterday, I had to rethink my ginger cookies after my first batch, but the first batch was still really tasty, so I didn’t want to waste them. Enter the ginger snap crust! By giving the cookies a second bake, I officially made them ginger snaps, and made them crisp enough to hold up to the cheesecake filling.

Using these for the crust of the cheesecake turned out to be super simple. I just rolled the dough into small balls about a half inch in diameter, then rolled them in sugar and baked them as directed below. They ended up coming out the perfect size to sit snugly in the base of a standard muffin pan.

Occasionally, one of the cookies was ever-so-slightly too large for the muffin cups. To solve that problem, I turned to my biscuit cutters. I snagged the smallest and placed it in the pan to check the size and it was perfect! All I had to do was center it on the larger cookies and cut, and the cookies were just right!

Once you have all the cookies ready to go, spray the muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray (I used the baking kind that has flour in it), and place a cookie in each cup. Now their ready for their second bake while you mix up the cheesecake filling (recipes and directions below).

These turned out so cute and delicious! And they’re even more adorable topped with a little rosette of fresh whipped cream! I also decided to add some tasty pumpkin spice malted milk balls  from Nuts Online (seriously, yum) to ours too, and they looked so sweet!

One of my favorite things about these cheesecakes is that they freeze beautifully. I’ve kept them stored in airtight containers in the freezer for three to four months in the past! I just place a few cakes on the bottom of a container, lay a small piece of parchment over them, then layer more cheesecakes on top. I repeat the process until the container is full, then freeze.

I am in love with these things! They really are just too adorable. Not to mention how creamy and yummy they are! I can’t wait to try this with regular cheesecake. The convenience of having individual servings of cheesecake is fantastic, not to mention that these are far less likely to get a big ugly crack in them! Take these to your Thanksgiving get-together, everyone will thank you for it! Enjoy!

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake
with Ginger Snap Crust
Makes 3 dozen

Ingredients

FOR THE COOKIES (CRUST)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
Additional sugar for rolling

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 lbs. (3 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream

To make the cookies: In a large bowl, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In another large bowel, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and shortening together until fluffy, then beat in both sugars until combined. Add the egg, then stir in the molasses until combined. Sprinkle half of the flour mixture over the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Sprinkle in the remaining flour mixture and beat until throughly combined. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.

Roll small amounts of cookie dough into balls that are 1/2-inch in diameter. Roll each ball in sugar to coat, then place on prepared baking sheet, about 1 1/2-inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, until cookies are deep golden brown. Allow to cool completely before second bake.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Spray a standard muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and place one cooled cookie in each muffin cup. Bake for another 10 minutes, then allow to cool, in the pan, completely before filling.

To make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, all of the spices, and the salt; set side.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the sugar mixture over the cream cheese and mix until just incorporated. Repeat with the remaining 2/3 of the sugar, adding it in 2 additions. Scrape the beater and bowl, then add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat until incorporated, then scrape the bowl. Add 3 of the eggs, beating until just combined, then scraping the bowl before adding the 2 remaining eggs. beat until well blended, scraping the beater and bowl as needed. Stir in the heavy cream until combined. Scrape the bowl a final time, and give the bowl a final hand stir.

Place 2 tablespoons of filling in each muffin cup. Bake (at 325 degrees) for 35-40 minutes, until the centers are set, but still jiggle slightly (internal temperature should be around 150 degrees). Run a paring knife gently around the edge of each cheesecake. Cool the cheesecakes, in the pan, to room temperature, then chill for 3-4 hours before removing from the pan and serving.

Cookie recipe by Darla
Filling recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary Anne November 23, 2010 at 10:38 am

I, too, don't like pumpkin pie, but I love pretty much everything else pumpkin! These are adorable, and I love that you can freeze them! I'm planning a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving, but may end up giving these a try instead!

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2 Imwaytoobusy November 23, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Those are adorable! As for the pumpkin malted milk balls…those have to be amazing!

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3 Laura November 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm

oh my, this is going on my ever-expanding list of recipes to try. :)

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4 Jenni November 8, 2012 at 9:29 am

I am so making these for our clinic luncheon next week! I love how tiny they are and the fact I can freeze them :)

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