When crafting a thanksgiving dessert menu I had two goals, use as few dishes as possible and make just enough to share or have leftovers for the next day but not all the days until spoilage. Bonus points for an easily freezable dessert and double bonus points for cheesecake.
I made my own graham crackers so I’ve include a volume measurement rather than an amount of crackers because I suspect that mine are far from standard size.
When I say a pinch I mean about an 1/8th of a teaspoon but often here it’s slightly more because spice should always be to taste.
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
A pumpkin cheesecake with homemade graham cracker crust that's scaled down for small groups. Baked in a six muffin tin sized pan and mixed in a food processor.
- full sized muffin tin with six
- 10×15″ roasting or cake pan for the water bath
- food processor
For the crust
- 2-3 ounces graham crackers by weight or about a half cup of ground I baked my own using Alton Brown’s recipe (see link in notes)
- a pinch each ground ginger,ground cinnamon, and ground cloves (I actually used a pinch of cinnamon and ginger and a pinch of the Penzeys Garam Masala)
- 2 tsps
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
For the cheesecakes:
- 2 ounces sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch ground ginger
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or the above mentions garam marsal a
- 3 ounces unsweetened pumpkin puree reduced to two ounces , see instructions and notes
- 5 ounces room temperature cream cheese cut or torn into smaller bits
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
Get the water out of the pumpkin
- Place the canned or prepared pumpkin puree in a skillet over medium low heat and slowly reduce by about a third – you can also do this in the oven but I like to do this while preparing the crust and so I do it on the stovetop to remind me to stir. The original recipe called for blotting/pressing (see notes)with a triple layer of paper towels to reduce the moisture but I prefer heat, this can cool while the crust cools.
Prepare the graham cracker crust
- Preheat oven to 325˚F.
- Line a full sized muffin tin with six liners and prepare a water bath. I used a 10×15 cake pan and allowed the water to heat in the oven while I prepared the crust and filling.
- Process graham crackers, sugar, and spices in a food processor until finely ground.
- Transfer crumb mixture to a bowl and mix in the melted butter with a fork
- Evenly press the cracker mixture into the bottoms of the prepared muffin papers, it’s about a Tablespoon per “muffin”. Bake until fragrant and lightly browned around edges, about 7-10 minutes. Allow to cool completely on wire rack.
- Do not turn off oven.
For the cheesecakes:
- Whisk sugar, spices, and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough attachment, pulse the softened cream cheese about five or ten times. Add the sugar and spice mixture; pulse until mostly combined scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary
- add the cooled to room temperature pumpkin and pulse until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as neccessary
- add the egg and again pulse until combined, scraping the bowl as needed
- then add the egg, pulse, scrape, etc
- repeat with the cream. The mixture should be throughly incorporated and smooth
- pour the mixture over the now cooled graham cracker crusts and bake in a hot water bath for about 20-25 minutes or until just set (the internal temperature should be 150F)
- remove from oven and allow to cool in water bath until water is cool, remove from bath and cool for another hour or so uncovered (I throw a kitchen towel over them to keep the dust out). Will keep for several days or wrap and freeze for several weeks
IF you prefer to use paper towels to reduce the moisture in the pumpkin: Line a rimmed baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels and evenly spread the pumpkin puree across the paper towels. Press another triple layer of paper towels onto the pumpkin and press gently with your hands to encourage the pumpkin to release its liquid. Set aside. I add a few shakes of the Penzey Garam Masala to gingersnaps, apple pie, pumpkin, pie, and this pumpkin cheesecake alton browns’ graham cracker recipe support cooks illustrated by subscribing to get the original recipe here or get a detailed walk through of the original recipe here (with pictures)
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Fabulous recipe. It came out perfectly and delicious. My new go-to cheesecake recipe!