First off, I want to say that I am not a skilled baker. I like to get creative with recipes, and since baking is an exact science, this often does not turn out well. I would also like to add, though, that these little cheesecakes might be my crowning kitchen achievement to date. If you plan to make these, I hope you have a house full of hungry people to feed. If not, I would highly recommend bringing them to work to lessen the risk of eating every single one, on the couch, by yourself, watching guilty pleasure TV in sweatpants.
I followed this recipe exactly, except I didn’t make any caramel from scratch. I’m clearly not as fancy as the Cooking Classy blog writer, who is a boss when it comes to desserts. But that’s okay.
Ingredient list: Sugar, butter, graham crackers, light brown sugar, caramel topping, heavy whipping cream, eggs, muffin cups, pumpkin puree, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, cinnamon, cream cheese, vanilla extract and sea salt.
The single hardest part of this recipe, besides the waiting period, is grinding the graham crackers down into a fine dust, especially if you don’t have any appropriate kitchen appliances to assist. After testing out several methods which covered my kitchen in a thin layer of dust, I found the most effective method is to place the graham crackers into a large plastic bag, and jump on it for about 5 minutes. Make sure the bag doesn’t break, to save your cheesecakes from tasting like feet.
Stir the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour and spices until it looks like smooth desert sand. Then, add the cream cheese and mix until smooth. Crack in an egg in one at a time, then mix in the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Finally, add the heavy whipping cream. Don’t forget to bang the bowl against the counter, to ensure the air bubbles are released and your downstairs neighbors are annoyed.
Here we have the nearly-finished product hot out of the oven, sans caramel topping. When the cheesecakes are finished baking, remove them from the cupcake pan and let cool, about 30 minutes. Then comes the hard part – transfer to the fridge and let them set for about 3 hours. During this time I would suggest maybe doing some exercise in preparation for what’s coming next.
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Caramel Topping
Yields 24, cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
- 1 3/4 cup graham cracker dust
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 packages cream cheese (24 oz. total)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 jar caramel sauce
- sea salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 325 F.
- Melt the butter and crush the graham crackers into a fine dust. Place all crackers in a large, heavy-duty zip-lock bag, and by whatever means necessary, crush them until no pieces remain.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together crushed graham crackers and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Pour in melted butter and stir until coated.
- Line cupcake pans with 24 muffin cups. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of graham cracker mixture to each, and press down firmly into an even layer. I had a lot of the mixture left over, so don’t use all of it unless you want half of the muffin cup to be crust. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven.
- In a mixing bowl, mix brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until smooth.
- Add softened cream cheese. If you have a hand mixer, blend on low until smooth, about 30 seconds. If you don’t have a mixer, wash up and use your hands.
- Add in eggs 1 at a time, then mix in pumpkin puree and vanilla. Lastly, add in heavy whipping cream. Stir until smooth – no lumps!
- To release air bubbles, bang the bowl against the counter about 30 times. Try not to disturb the neighbors.
- Add about 1/4 cup of the mixture to each muffin cup, until the cup is nearly full but not quite.
- Bake in oven about 20-25 minutes, until nearly set and not giggly. Remove and cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to fridge for 3 hours.
- Just before serving, spoon in a thin layer of caramel topping to each mini cheesecake. You should use no more than half of the jar. Top with a little sprinkle of sea salt. Store any leftovers in the fridge.