Miniature Pumpkin Pie Cheesecakes

Every year for Thanksgiving I make the same ol’ pumpkin pie. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE pumpkin pie! It’s one of my favorite parts of fall. But this year I wanted to do something a little different. Nothing drastic, mind you, but just something other than a plain pumpkin pie. Trying to come up with something pumpkin-y that my family would like, I remembered making some chocolate miniature cheesecakes for my husband’s birthday that everybody loved. If they liked pumpkin pie and miniature cheesecakes, why not a pumpkin pie miniature cheesecake?

Miniature Pumpkin Pie Cheesecakes
Yields 12 mini cheesecakes

Ingredients:

For the pie crust:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. granulated sugar
2 sticks (226 grams) cold butter, cut into pieces
Ice cold water

For the cheesecakes:
200 grams cream cheese
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg

For the frosting:
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Start by making the pie crust. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and sugar. In a stand mixer, food processor, or with a electric hand mixer, add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Try to make sure there are no big hunks of butter that’ll show up in your dough later. Once the mixture is the right consistency, you can start adding the cold water one tablespoon at a time, mixing between each new addition. I know it’s tempting to add several spoons of water at a time, but try to fight this urge. One tablespoon can literally be the difference between not enough and too much (yeah, the impatient voice of experience speaking here again). Once the dough starts to cling together and form a ball, it’s ready to be rolled out on a lightly floured surface. I rolled my dough out to about a 1/4 inch thick and cut 12 small crusts to fit my muffin pans. Grease the muffin pan, and press each circle of crust into it, being sure to press out any little air bubbles that might be underneath.

Cutting out the mini pie crusts

Once the dough is ready, you can start on the cheesecake. Start by setting your oven to 350* Fahrenheit (175* Celsius). In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese until smooth. Add the granulated sugar and mix until the sugar has all but dissolved. To the cream cheese and sugar, add the can of pumpkin puree and the egg. Mix until all the ingredients have been thoroughly combined. Add the final ingredients (cinnamon, ginger, clove, and vanilla extract) and mix one last time until everything is well mixed and there are no residual lumps. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the muffin pan until each cup is just about full. Since the cheesecake isn’t going to really rise during the baking process, you can get away with all but filling each cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are set and the center is still a little jiggly. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecakes sit for an additional 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Be careful not to remove your cheesecakes from their pan too soon as this may result in broken or misshapen cheesecakes. I like to put my cheesecakes, pan and all, into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to cool. Personally, I think this makes them easier to remove from the pan.

Fresh out of the oven!

The “frosting” for this recipe is a simple stiff whipped cream frosting. To make it, whip the cream on high in a medium sized bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes). Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and mix until everything is combined and there are no little powdered sugar lumps. The whipped cream should be stiff enough to hold it’s form when piped, but it’s not going to be buttercream stiff. Spoon the whipped cream into a bag and pipe as desired. You can also just spoon a dollop onto each cheesecake if you don’t want to pipe it. I’m a little obsessed with my piping set right now so I have to pipe everything. I also garnished each with a little cinnamon, but that’s completely optional.

Ready for a cinnamon garnish

Happy baking!

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