Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups with a microwaveable caramel sauce

I am so very late to the pumpkin party! I just hope I'm not too late and you've all overdosed on it  already. I have a good excuse for being late... I really do. I am 3 1/2 months pregnant with twins and morning sickness has been in full swing. You have to feel bad for me. Just think of all the awesome Fall recipes I missed out on.

My first pumpkin recipe of the Fall involves pumpkin (duh!), cheesecake and caramel. Introducing Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups...

These single serving size cups are made in a muffin tin. I used a large cupped tin but you can use whatever size you'd like. You can also check out the original recipe if you want to make a traditional cheesecake.

Because I love experimenting, I made these with a Cinnamon Toast Crunch crust. The result was quite tasty. The options of cookies, crackers, cereal you can use for a crust are endless!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups (original recipe: Once Upon A Chef)

Makes 6 in a large muffin pan

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Crust 
4 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
4 tbsp butter, melted

Pumpkin Cheesecake

5oz canned pumpkin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Dash of salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
8oz cream cheese, room temp
2 eggs, room temp

Caramel Sauce (microwave!)

1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp water
1/8 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter

To make the crust:

Ground the cereal into fine crumbs. Pour in the melted butter and stir together.
Preheat oven to 325. Prepare a large muffin pan by rubbing olive oil into each muffin cup.

Divide the cereal mixture into each muffin cup. You may have a little left over.
Bake crust for about 8 minutes. Let cool while you prepare the cheesecake.

To make the cheesecake:

Combine pumpkin, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a saucepan. Cook on med-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to sputter. Reduce to med-low heat and stir constantly for another 5 minutes or until the mixture has become a rich brown color and thickened.

Pour into bowl and mix for one minute. Pour in heavy cream while mixer is on. Mix evenly. Add chunks of cream cheese and blend until smooth. This took quite a while for me and honestly it was still a little chunky when I decided enough was enough. The original recipe suggests using a food processor. I think it would be the preferred method in order to get the mixture smooth and to avoid chunky bits of cream cheese.  Add eggs and stir just until combined. Overmixing will cause the cheesecake to rise and crack.

Spoon the cheesecake mix into the muffin cups (on top of the crust).

We are going to bake this cheesecake in a water bath. The bath allows the cheesecake to cook evenly and helps to avoid it from cracking. Wrap the bottom of the muffin pan in foil.

Fill a cake pan with water. Just enough so it doesn't overflow once you add the prepared muffin tin.

Bake cheesecake for about 1 hour or until the cheesecake is no longer jiggling. Remove from oven and let cool for about 1/2 hour. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours. 

To make the caramel sauce:

Seriously, this recipe so easy and the sauce it absolutely wonderful!

Stir together sugar, syrup, water and lemon juice. Microwave until the caramel is pale yellow, or just barely starting to take on some color, 4-8 minutes (depending on the strength of your microwave). It's fine to stop and open the microwave to check often; just don't let it get too dark or it will burn.

Let the caramel sit for about 5 minutes -- it will gradually turn a rich amber color. (If after five minutes, it's not dark enough, place it back in the microwave for thirty seconds or so, then let it darken again. If it gets too dark, start over.)

In the meantime, heat the cream in the microwave until hot. Once the caramel reaches the right color, add the hot cream a few tablespoons at a time. It will bubble up intensely, but won't overflow.

After you've added all the cream, stir to incorporate then add the butter. Add more cream if the mixture seems too thick. Once the caramel cools, you can store it in your fridge.

When you are ready to serve, carefully slide a butter knife around the edges of the cheesecake and gently loosen it from the pan. Top with whip cream, caramel and a dash of cinnamon.


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