Recipe: Pumpkin cheesecake
When my King Arthur Flour catalog arrived, it fell open to the page with the baby pumpkin cheesecakes. It was love at first sight. I ordered the pan, ran out and got all the ingredients and like a little kid, waited for the mailman to show up every day for a week (I didn't choose the Express Delivery option).
Homemade baby-pumpkin-cheesecake dessert day felt like Christmas in October. Well, at least like the official kickoff of the holiday season. King Arthur Flour's cheesecake recipe is divine. The cheesecake came out very smooth and rich. It was creamy and dense, sweet but not too sweet. The spices were perfectly balanced. It was everything I wanted it to be and worth every minute of preparation.
- 1/2 cup graham cracker or chocolate cookie crumbs
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate, melted
- 1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
Preheat the oven to 325º Spray each cup of mini cheesecake pan with cooking spray or lightly grease with butter. Set aside.
To prepare the crust: In a small bowl, mix together crumbs, sugar and butter. Place 1 tablespoon of crust filling into each cup. Using the handle of a whisk or spatula, pat crumbs down flat.
Bake the crusts until set, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 300º.
To prepare the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the cream cheese and sugar. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and add the eggs one at a time, mixing until smooth.
If piping pumpkin faces out of filling: Remove 1/4 cup of batter and mix with the melted chocolate. Set aside. If not, skip to next step.
Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg (if using), salt and allspice and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into a large measuring cup or container with a pour spout and divide among the cups to 3/4 full. Use pastry bag to pipe faces onto the cakes by placing the tip just below the surface of the filling.
Bake the cakes for 16 to 20 minutes or until set around the edges with a dime-sized middle that still looks soft. Remove from the oven, and cool for 30 minutes or so before refrigerating. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Unmold cheesecakes.
Note: You may have leftover crust filling. Store in freezer. Keeps well.
Prep time: 1 casual hour
Cook time: 20 minutes to cook, 30 minutes to cool
Pumpkin faces:To create the pumpkin faces on the baby cheesecakes, the recipe calls for you to melt 3/4 ounces of semisweet chocolate and add it to 1/4 cup of the cheesecake batter and then pour it into a pastry bag. Once the cheesecake batter is divided among the cups in the cheesecake pan and before baking, the recipe calls for you to pipe the chocolate batter onto pumpkin faces. I found this to be time-consuming and awkward. Admittedly, I'm not a pastry chef and I have little patience for these Martha Stewart kinds of projects. That said, the cheesecakes in their catalogs are lovely. And the technique is very doable.
Pumpkin faces for dummies: I tested the recipe a second time and decorated the pumpkin cheesecakes after they came out of the oven using store-bought decorating frostings in the tube. It was a whole lot easier and is something you can do with your kids.