This recipe is a fantastic take on two classic desserts: pumpkin pie and cheesecake. Its texture is creamy and light while still providing a cozy-spiced flavor that is perfect for fall. A crust made with gingersnaps adds a zingy, sweetness that gets enhanced by the crunchy pecan and pumpkin seed brittle topping. Finished with a maple whipped cream, it's exquisite! Preparing the cheesecake in individual portions adds elegance that will make your Thanksgiving dessert quite the showstopper, plus, save time in the kitchen.
Special kitchen equipment: 6 to 8 (6-ounce) ramekins.
Technique tip: To smooth the sides after unmolding, heat an offset spatula with water and run it along the edge of the cheesecake before serving
Swap option: Use graham crackers if you can’t find gingersnaps.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare 6 to 8 ramekins with tin foil, pushing the foil tightly to the sides. Spray with cooking spray and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.2.
In a food processor, pulse together cookie crumbs, kosher salt and brown sugar until the consistency of sand. Drizzle in melted butter and process until the consistency of wet sand. Divide the mixture among 6 ramekins, pressing down with the back of a glass to ensure the crust is tightly packed. Place onto a baking dish with high sides and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden and set. Remove from the oven to cool.3.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Add cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer over medium-high speed and beat until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add both sugars and beat on medium-high speed until aerated and fluffy 2 to 3 mins more. Add the spices, salt, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree and beat until smooth. Finally, add the eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Don’t overbeat the mixture.4.
Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins and place into the oven. Gently pour in hot water so it hits halfway up the sides of the ramekins and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecakes are set and the center is slightly jiggly. Once done, turn off the heat, crack the oven door, and keep the cheesecakes in the oven for 10 minutes more to set and prevent cracking. Remove from the oven and cool completely.5.
Make the brittle. In a medium saucepan combine the butter and brown sugar and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add the pecans and pumpkin seeds and salt and continue to cook until the nuts and seeds are toasted and the caramel is sticky, about 2 to 3 minutes. Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread into an even layer to cool. Once cooled, chop up into smaller bits.6.
Make the optional whipped cream by adding cream and maple syrup to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with an electric mixer and whip until stiff peaks form, about 4 to 5 minutes.7.
To serve, top each cheesecake with the whipped cream and brittle and enjoy!