Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

I love cooking according to the season and this time of year is at it's finest. I love fall and the holidays that lead into winter. The flavors are comforting and growing up in the midwest, warm comfort food is what we need to survive these blustering temperatures. Sigh...I was not expecting winter to come so soon for  us but here we are!

To be honest with you, cheesecake is not my first choice in dessert and trust me, my favorite part of any meal is the dessert. It's good but doesn't blow me away. However, I made these cheesecake bites over 2 years ago for my job interview and ever since I have a deeper appreciation for them. I had a normal interview but also had to cook a 3-course meal as an additional portion to the interview. I went with my gut and chose 3 dishes that were seasonal and truly showed my style of cooking. With it being fall I ended the meal with these pumpkin cheesecake bites I found on Pinterest...and practiced prior to the interview, of course. I made a few tweaks but can pretty much thank Life Made Simple for the amazing recipe!!

I made these for my sister's baby shower and didn't take every step-by-step photo that I had intended on but I was running late, of course, and had to get these done!

For the cheesecake filling

(2) 8 oz packages of room temperature cream cheese
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tbl heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¹⁄4 tsp nutmeg

For the ginger snap crust
1 1/2 cups ginger snap cookies (whatever brand you prefer)
3 tbl brown sugar (pressed)
1/2 cup pecans
A pinch of salt
3 tbl melted butter

For the whipped cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3-4 tbl powdered sugar (adjust to your level of sweetness)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse the ginger snaps, brown sugar, pecans, and salt until course. Pour into a small bowl and pour in melted butter, stirring to combine. 

Spray a mini muffin tin with pan spray and press about a tbl of crumb mixture into each well, pressing slightly up towards the middle. Bake for about 9-10 minutes or unit golden brown. 

While the crust is baking prepare the cheesecake filling by beating the cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin puree until smooth on medium speed. Add the eggs, heavy cream, vanilla, and spices and continue to mix on medium speed until well combined.

Spoon about 2 tbl of the cheesecake over each crust to the brim of each well. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until set and cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes prior to removing. *The middles may sink slightly but don't fret, the whipped cream will cover this imperfection.
I found using a spoon and loosening the sides and then lifting up the bottom works great. I placed the cheesecakes right on a platter and stashed them in the fridge until I was ready to serve them.  Just before serving I piped whipped cream on each one and dusted nutmeg (or pumpkin pie spice) on top.
To make whipped cream I used my wire whisk attachment and beat the heavy cream on medium until medium peaks formed. I then added powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste and continued to beat until stiff peaks formed. Transfer to a piping bag (ziploc bags work great too!) and store in the fridge until ready to use.

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