Friday, September 26, 2008

It's pumpkin (cheesecake) season in the valley!

Pumpkins are popping up everywhere in the valley. In gardens, at farmer's markets and roadside stands and even on menus (as evidenced by the pumpkin pie offering I shared with you last time). Jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pie are the obvious uses for this bounty of gourds, but pumpkin cheesecake is more my speed.

In the past I've made my fall pumpkin cheesecakes in standard 10" springform pans. But this year I decided to make mini cheesecakes using this great new mini cheesecake pan:

As you can see from the picture, the pan has little removable discs that you can push out of the bottom. You put the disc in, put in your crust and cheesecake mixture, bake, let cool and then push your finger up through the bottom to pop out a perfect little cheesecake. This is the neatest pan I have - I love it! (You can buy them at Amazon - check out my list of favorites on the right.)

If you don't have this pan, but still want mini cheesecakes, you can also use a muffin pan. If you do, be sure to use paper liners so you can get your cheesecakes out. (With the cheesecake pan, no liners are needed.)

On to the recipe for 12 mini cheesecakes:

12 small gingersnap cookies (Archway brand cookies are the right size)

1 8 oz. package cream cheese

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. cooked pumpkin (you can use canned if you're not so lucky as to have a bumper crop of pumpkins in your neck of the woods)

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 tsp. cinnamon plus 1/8 tsp. ginger plus 1/8 tsp. nutmeg)

1 whole egg

1 egg white

Bring eggs and cream cheese to room temperature (cream cheese should be soft).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat cream cheese and brown sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and mix. Beat in heavy cream, maple syrup, vanilla, brown sugar and spices. Add egg and egg white one at a time and beat until smooth.

Put a gingersnap into the bottom of each cup in the pan (make sure the metal disc is already in there!). Fill cups about 3/4 full with cheesecake batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 14 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before removing from pan. Chill in refrigerator overnight (or at least 4 hours).

I like to serve mine with a little homemade whipped cream on top:


(If you want to make this recipe using a standard springform pan take 1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnaps and mix with 3 Tbsp. sugar and 6 Tbsp. butter. Press into bottom of springform pan. Triple the cheesecake batter ingredients [cream cheese, pumpkin, spices, etc.] and mix according to instructions. Pour into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.)

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