Pumpkin Cheesecake

Desserts are an integral part of the holidays. There's just no better place to fatten up your loved ones than the dinner table on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Cheesecake is one of the ultimate rich desserts. Creamy, sweet, and filled with flavor. It can be topped with berries, swirled with chocolate, or hell, just read any Cheesecake Factory menu and you will find that you can do just about anything with the recipe.

I tend to keep canned pumpkin around. It's useful for Pumpkin Muffins, and at some point I'm going to fill some ravioli with them. And besides, I don't see anything wrong with eating pumpkin pie all year. So when brainstorming ideas for my thanksgiving contributions, it was an easy road to follow and wind up arriving on these. Just a few adjustments to a cheesecake recipe...let's see how this goes.

I used my little hand mixer for this because I only needed it for a minute. Cheesecake is one of the most simple desserts to mix - I've even made it in a blender! I went with cream cheese for this cheesecake recipe. It is a smaller batch than you would use for a thick cheesecake. This one only uses 1 package of cream cheese vs the typical two (though in the NY Style there is FOUR!). I have made ricotta and cottage cheese versions, but cream cheese was in my fridge for the win.

I mixed the cream cheese, pumpkin. sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger and vanilla together until it was creamy, then added the eggs and mixed until it was all smooth. The pumpkin and spices were just added right in and no other adjustments were made.


Do you love speculoos cookies as much as I do? Cookie butter is a life changer. Speculoos cookies are gingerbread like in some ways; they're a very fall/winter cookie, crunchy and with enough cinnamon and ginger to give them a spicy flavor. Though graham crackers are a popular choice for crusts, a friend of mine used these cookies once and told me about it so I had to try.

Of course, New York Style Cheesecake has a cake bottom, which I also love, but pumpkin is a fall flavor, and so are the very seasonably appropriate spices in speculoos cookes (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves) go with pumpkin like peanut butter goes with jelly. Seriously, have you tried cookie butter?

Making the crusts was as simple as smashing the cookies - smash them in a plastic bag or put them in a food processor to make it easy - and mixing them with melted butter. I pressed the mixture into some cupcake papers to lay the foundation for easy cheesecake servings.


I topped them with my filling and popped the pan in the oven. A little bit of bake time and my sugary cream cheese bombs were complete.


After cooling, I left them in the fridge for about 2 hours to set. And all it took was a little whipped cream to make these mini cakes perfect.


Half a can was just the right amount of pumpkin for these. They had the flavor without being overwhelming or not cheesecake-like in taste. It worked out great because I had already used half in my Pumpkin Galaktoboureko recipe, so what a great way to finish up. The important thing was consistency. Baking is a science, and as I mentioned in the Galaktoboureko post, adding ingredients without adjusting can throw the recipe off balance. Pumpkin seemed fairly safe to add; it's a thick, creamed vegetable and not something like milk or water that would obviously alternate how the filling turned out.

But let's talk about that crust, because if this were a cinematic masterpiece, it would have carried a leading role. The spices were ideal with the pumpkin, and the crunch it added gave a nice texture. Graham crackers do get crunchier in a crust when baked, but speculoos cookies are an almost sandy consistency when crushed while graham crackers tend to be more flaky. I preferred the crunchier variety.

For a fairly quick addition to any fall dessert fiesta, I highly recommend pumpkin cheesecakes. Easy? Check. Seasonally appropriate? Double Check. Flavorful? Say no more.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Ingredients:

For the crust:
5-6 speculoos cookies (or graham crackers if preferred)
2 tablespoons melted butter

For the filling:
2 packages of cream cheese (8 ounces each)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 cup canned pumpkin (half of one 15.5 ounce can)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 eggs

Instructions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Crush cookies until they are a sandy consistency. Mix with melted butter and form into crust in a pie dish or cupcake pan. Beat cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger and vanilla with mixer until blended. Stir in pumpkin. Add eggs and beat just until blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes for cupcake sized cakes or 40 minutes for a larger pie. Allow cakes to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours prior to serving.

adapted from philadelphia cheesecake

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