Mini Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust

Another backlogged holiday season post!

For Thanksgiving dinner (yes…Thanksgiving) with my mom’s side of the family, I needed to come up with something a bit different to contribute for dessert.  It had been a while since the last time I’d made anything with cheesecake, so I decided to once again combine pumpkin and cheesecake.  I found a great recipe on Fowlering the Width for mini pumpkin cheesecakes here:

Ingredients:
  • 1 package of oreos
  • 4 T unsalted butter (half of a stick)
  • 24 oz. cream cheese  (3 8-oz. bricks), room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 15-oz. can 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 T of vanilla extract
  • 2 t of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour
For the Crust:
  1.  Crush your oreos in the food processor and then pour in the melted butter. Spoon about a tablespoon or so of the crust into cupcake liners and then press down with a glass.

    Pressing Oreo Mixture into a Crust
    Pressing Oreo Mixture into a Crust
For the Filling:
  1. Beat the cream cheese in your mixer until smooth. Add the brown sugar and mix. Break your eggs into another bowl and then break them up with a fork. Add to the mixer. Beat well.
  2. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, pie spice, flour and mix until well combined.

    Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter
    Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter
  3. Pour filling into crusts. Bake at 325 for 35 minutes then turn off heat and crack the oven door for an additional 30 minutes. Then cool in kitchen for another 30. Then cool in fridge for 6 hours or overnight. You can top with whipped cream or eat as is.
 Makes 36 cupcake-size cheesecakes.

Mini Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust
Mini Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust

I ran out of foil cupcake liners, soooooo I had to improvise a bit with some foil.

Ghetto Cupcake Wrappers
Ghetto Cupcake Wrappers

The tops didn’t crack in the oven – always a good sign with cheesecake.  These were VERY rich and very sweet, for those that are into that.  The texture of the cheesecake was light and airy considering how much cream cheese went into it, but they were still really flavorful.  If you make these, be careful not to eat too many at once if you’re sensitive to rich foods like yours truly or you won’t like what happens after…

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Each year at work, we have a Thanksgiving potluck the Thursday prior to Thanksgiving.  Over the four years I’ve been at my job, I’ve contributed an array of different things – from bottled water to ice to a side dish of some sort.  This year, I decided to go with dessert.  I’m keeping up the promise I made a few posts ago and am bringing the pumpkin back into the spotlight – this time with cheesecake in these pumpkin swirl cheesecake bars.

Pecans went on sale at Target last weekend, so I picked up a couple bags.  My dad (perpetually teeming with random facts) told me that the state of Texas (a pecan crop leader) is looking at a 15-year drought, so the price of pecans are expected to skyrocket in the near future.  I was sure to pick up a couple bags.  Thanks, dad.  I beat the pecans in their bag with a rolling pin a bunch of times to make sure they were in small pieces before measuring them out for the crust.

Crust (Dry Ingredients) - Flour, Brown Sugar, Salt, Cinnamon, Chopped Pecans

I doubled the recipe with the intent of making two 9″x9″ pans worth.  However, I started the baking process late on a weeknight and by the time I realized I didn’t own a second 9″x9″ pan, it was already almost 1am.  I wasn’t about to wait to use the same pan twice nor run out to buy another.  So, I threw everything in a 9″x13″ pan and crossed my fingers.  The crusted ended up being close to half an inch thick, and the cheesecake portion didn’t set with the 30 minutes it was in the oven.  I left it in for a bit more and tried to eyeball it, but about 15 minutes later, it sadly cracked a bit across the top in a few places.  Luckily, the cheesecake was still really creamy, so other than the appearance, it turned out fine.

All Swirled Up and Ready for Baking!

I bought a box from a baking supply store and added a cute Lotta Jansdotter sticker label so that people in the buffet line would know what they were getting.  I definitely didn’t use a sharp enough knife to cut these because the edges didn’t come out so clean in square form.  Oopsies!

Presentation - Not Cleanly Cut, I Know.

I’ll be making this again on Thursday for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner potluck.  The cheesecake part is soft enough for my grandpa to eat.  NOM!

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bar

P.S.  This is the first project I’ve used Lightroom with.  Thoughts?  I’m still figuring out how to use it, but I think I figured out the very basics!

Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes

I somehow managed to get sick AGAIN last week, thus the surge in posts (2 posts within a week is a lot!).   It all started on Valentine’s Day – the day I was planning to surprise Kevin with a new cheesecake recipe I came across back in January.  However, we miraculously must have channeled the germ gods at the same time because we both ended up feeling fatigued and sniffly by the end of the day.  After almost a week straight of feeling congested, unquenchably dehydrated, and tired, I finally regained my energy over President’s Day weekend – enough energy to cook-up a storm.

Tears of Unfathomable Sadness
Tears of Unfathomable Sadness

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, or so the cliché goes.  However, the object of my affection has a bottomless pit for a stomach and peculiar taste preferences, so I’ve really had to change up my game in the last few months.  While my food staples are quinoa, fresh produce, and lean proteins, Kevin’s are Party Pizza, Carl’s Jr. western bacon cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, and hot sauce.  While I like to think I’ve always been a decent cook (considering my parents don’t cook so I pretty much figured it out on my own), it’s been a challenge to meet halfway between an “obsessively healthy” cooking style to cuisine that has a lot of flavor additives.  The man even said STEAK doesn’t have enough flavor…to which I replied, “That’s because you haven’t had mine yet”.   Challenge accepted.  I said I was going to make steaks for dinner.

After an hour’s worth of time at Ralphs and Trader Joe’s followed by a 3-hour (yes, THREE HOUR) stint in the kitchen,  I’m glad to share with you my well-rounded (albeit not calorie-friendly) dinner featuring a dinner salad, my favorite homemade steak, mac and cheese (Kevin’s pick), and raspberry mini cheesecakes.  The raspberry cheesecakes really are the main event to this post, but I was taking tons of photos for the cheesecakes anyway so I figured why not do the same for the meal as a whole.

Who can resist a medium-rare filet mignon rubbed with a little fresh ground pepper and kosher salt?  I topped it with some fried garlic and grilled onions on the side.  Nom.

Steak with Fried Garlic
Steak with Fried Garlic

Next up, we have baked mac and cheese, utilizing a recipe I borrowed from Alton Brown.

Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese

Last but not least, sweets for my sweet.  I made a raspberry puree sauce with my “hand-y” food processor.  That is, I don’t own a food processor so I mashed a container of raspberries with a fork and separated the seeds from the fruit.  I didn’t need the raspberry seeds/guts for this recipe, but it made a nice pseudo-jam for my almond butter sandwich the next morning.

Raspberry Sauce (right) and Seeds (left)
Raspberry Sauce (right) and Seeds (left)

The hardest part about making these guys was dealing with the water bath situation.  I drowned one or two mini cheesecakes in water every time I took a batch out of the oven.  The other difficult step was drawing the hearts, while taking a photo in one hand and keeping my other hand steady while doing the heart.  I didn’t have any toothpicks handy, so I improvised by using an uncooked soba noodle to draw the hearts.

Drawing the Hearts
Drawing the Hearts

I thoroughly enjoyed this particular recipe… dare I say even better than the Peanut Butter Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes I made for his birthday in August.  As fluffy as I thought those were, these were much more delicate and light, but still had a velvety rich taste to them. Voilà!

My Favorite Cheesecake Photo
My Favorite Cheesecake Photo

Check out the gallery for more photos!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes

I would have to say my love of food is probably more fervent than the average person.  There is nothing I enjoy more than ordering 1.5 entrees when eating out, making enough food to last me a couple days and then eating it all in one sitting instead, talking about eating while I’m eating, stuffing my face til I can no longer formulate complete sentences . . . you get the picture.  I cook and eat mostly healthy fare, but I unfortunately inherited my dad’s sweet tooth and will probably inherit his diabetes as well.  I’ve learned by trial-and-error to only bake for other people and/or special occasions, because I end up eating the whole batch when I bake something just for myself.

I made these for a birthday dinner this past August, and the birthday boy was an avid cheesecake and peanut butter lover.  I had never made cheesecake before nor really eaten much of it, so this project was a bit of a challenge in that I didn’t know how to adjust cheesecake texture and flavor during the baking process like I know with cookies or regular cake.

I got the recipe for the Peanut Butter Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes from Food Network, courtesy of Paula Deen.  Click on the photos below for a larger view!

I had no idea how to make cheesecake fluffy, so I thought perhaps just beating the cheesecake mixture extra long with would do the trick.  I think it paid off – when I had my first bite, my favorite line from Despicable Me came to mind.  Big thanks to baking/cooking connoisseur Jay Liu for letting me borrow his electric mixer!

Again, I’m not an avid fan of cheesecake, but I have to admit these were pretty tasty.  The birthday boy liked them too, so that’s all that matters in the end.  Thanks, Paula Deen!