Editor's Note: This recipe originally published on Patch on Nov. 22, 2011.
Nothing is sadder for a proud baker than someone turning down dessert because they’re just too full. Instead, offer bite-sized desserts that no one can resist. Mini pumpkin cheesecakes fit the bill and aren’t as temperamental as a full-size cheesecake can be.
Cheesecake puts panic in the heart of even seasoned bakers. It seems that either the top cracks and looks like the Grand Canyon, or it collapses and looks like a moonscape. Then there’s the whole thing with Springform pans and water baths.
Avoid the angst by making mini cheesecakes in a muffin tin – decadence in a couple bites! Added bonus: they freeze nicely, providing you with a cheesecake fix any time you like -- or until the rest of the family finds them camouflaged in that empty bag of Brussels sprouts!
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
18-24 gingersnaps or vanilla wafers
1½ Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. salt AND cardamon
1/8 tsp. powdered cloves AND nutmeg
16 oz cream cheese (not fat-free), at room temperature
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. real maple syrup
2 large eggs
Your cream cheese must be very soft to avoid lumpy filling. While it is softening, prepare your muffin tins.
For no-hassle removal, use paper or foil cupcake liners. It’s certainly more elegant without the cupcake liners, but they’re just a little trickier to get out of the tins.
If you don’t use cupcake liners, liberally coat each muffin tin with cooking spray. There’s no need to coat the tins if you’re using cupcake liners. Either way, place a wafer or gingersnap into each muffin tin.
In a small bowl mix together all the dry ingredients until they are lump-free and very well incorporated. Set aside.
In a bowl with high sides, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Add dry ingredients, maple syrup, and pumpkin; continue to beat on low until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low until blended.
Pour the batter into the muffin tins almost all the way to the top. Bake in preheated 325º oven for 35-45 minutes. When done the middle will barely jiggle and an instant-read thermometer will be at 150º.
When the cheesecakes are done, turn off the oven and open the oven door a few inches. Allow the cheesecakes to cool in the oven for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and gently lift out the cakes by the paper liner. Allow them to cool completely on a rack.
If you didn’t use cupcake liners, pour extremely hot water over a blunt knife and then run the knife around the edge of each cheesecake. Carefully lift the cake out and place on a cooling rack.
Once the cakes are completely cool, store in the refrigerator in a single layer in an air-tight container. When completely cold, you may stack the cheesecakes with a layer of parchment or waxed paper between each layer and freeze in an air-tight container.
If the cheesecakes collapsed somewhat, decorate the top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream -- or with a couple praline pecans from last week’s recipe.
For more Thanksgiving recipes, check out these recipes from last year: