HELLO! It’s been a while. September-December are the busiest months of the year for my full time job, so between that, making caramels for 125 wedding favors, traveling to Boston to go to said wedding, getting sick (because airplanes are disgusting), a visit from my mother in law, getting sick again, and being generally exhausted, I’ve slacked a little over here. Sorry not sorry? Ok but no, I’m actually sorry. I don’t like being a slacker.
I promise you, though, that this recipe more than makes up for my absence. This is your Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving dessert! Little spiced pumpkin cheesecakes on a biscoff cookie crust, topped with bourbon-brown sugar whipped cream and salted caramel sauce. Do I need to say that again? Didn’t think so.
My issue with cheesecake is that it’s always so ridiculously rich and heavy that I spend an hour afterward simultaneously wanting to stick my face in the remaining cake so I can inhale it faster, while also feeling like I’ve overdosed after one slice and never want to eat again. We’ve solved that problem here…Japanese-style cheesecake! It’s much lighter and fluffier than your typical New York-style cheesecake. And, they’re mini dudes, too…so, nobody is obligating you into a full slice of anything post-meal. Basically, what I’m saying is…after your huge, coma-inducing tryptophan-filled Thanksgiving meal, you’ll still be able to handle dessert. One of these guys won’t put you over the edge, but if you wanted to eat three or four, I wouldn’t judge you.
Easy to multiply, easy to feed a crowd, and they look like they take way, WAY more effort than they actually do. If you’re going to someone else’s house, they’re pretty easy to transport, too. Just pack up all the elements separately, and assemble when you’re ready to serve. If you hate pumpkin (how dare you!), you could substitute sweet potato or some kind of squash puree instead (preferably butternut squash, though I think acorn and kabocha would probably work). You can make the cakes and the caramel a day or two ahead of time, too…just remember that the crust will get a little less crisp each day that they sit in the fridge. No big deal, IMO, cause they’re still delicious
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
with Bourbon-Brown Sugar Whipped Cream & Salted Caramel Sauce
makes about 16-18 mini (muffin-pan sized) cheesecakes
for the crust:
18 biscoff cookies
4 graham crackers
3 TB granulated sugar
4-6 TB unsalted butter, melted
for the filling:
500g cream cheese
2 egg yolks
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g pumpkin puree
80g granulated sugar
2 egg whites
- PREP THE CRUSTS: Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Line your muffin/cupcake pan with paper cups, just like you would if you were making cupcakes. This will make it MUCH easier to get the cheesecakes out later.
- Using your food processor, blitz the biscoff cookies, graham crackers and sugar together until you have consistently sized crumbs — they should be about the texture of rough sand.
- Pour crumbs into a medium sized bowl.
- Add 3 TB of the melted butter, and stir using a rubber spatula. Are all of the crumbs moistened? If you pinch some together, do they hold (like wet sand?) If not, add more butter, one tablespoon at a time, stirring and testing before you add another, until crumbs are like wet sand and will hold together when pinched.
- Evenly distribute between muffin cups, and tamp down crumbs using the bottom of a juice glass (or whatever else you have that will work.)
- Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool before filling.
- PREP THE FILLING: Preheat oven to 375F.
- Beat cream cheese and egg yolks together.
- Add spices, vanilla, and pumpkin puree. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and sugar until you have soft/medium peaks.
- In three batches, fold egg white mixture into pumpkin/cream cheese mixture.
- Place a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.
- Put cheesecakes in oven on the middle rack.
- Bake at 375F for 15 minutes, then, drop the heat down to 300F and bake for another 40-50 minutes until cakes are set and internal temperature reaches 155F.
- Allow to cool at room temperature, and then refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
- TO SERVE: Carefully remove cupcake liner from cheesecake. Top with caramel sauce, brown sugar-bourbon whipped cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
1 cup granulated sugar
6 TB unsalted butter cut into 12 pieces
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp salt (more if you prefer a saltier caramel)
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt sugar over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
- After 5-10 minutes, sugar will eventually melt into a thick, amber-colored liquid. If you stop stirring for too long it will burn, so be careful! Once you’ve reached the amber color and your sugar is completely melted, add the butter. Caramel will initially bubble rapidly and may spit at you, but will stop after a minute or so. Stir butter into caramel until completely melted and combined (should take about 2 minutes).
- While stirring continuously, drizzle in whipping cream. Make sure all cream is incorporated thoroughly.
- Boil mixture for one minute.
- Remove from heat, and stir in salt.
- Store in a mason jar in the fridge when not in use.
Brown Sugar & Bourbon Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
4 TB brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 TB bourbon
- Combine brown sugar and cream, and allow to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes (this helps the sugar dissolve.)
- Beat until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and bourbon, and continue mixing until stiff peaks form.
- Serve. Whipped cream typically doesn’t save very well, so it’s best to make this right before you need it.