Small Bites Baking: Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes


I'm back in the baking groove and I've got a new #Smallbitesbaking item to share, mini pumpkin cheesecakes!
When I first launched this baking series I did so with the intention to make small yet flavourful items, with an eye on calories. Well, two out of three ain't bad! Two words you should never put in a sentence together, calories and cheesecake. If you can limit yourself to just one of these mini pumpkin cheesecake bites, then you might be ok. They are very rich so it's not totally impossible to have just one. I just found that two tasted so good, you might as well go ahead and have a third!


Blame it on the leftover pie pumpkins I had from my American Thanksgiving decor (which was so low key I forgot to even take photos of our tablescape!) I wanted to get them roasted and into the freezer before the rush of the holidays so on Black Friday I cut my pie pumpkin in half and removed the seeds. 


Some websites and cookbooks will recommend you coat the pumpkin halves in olive oil but I would advise against that. Depending on your brand of olive oil it could impart a taste that you wouldn't want mixing with your final product. I place the cut sides down on a baking pan and roast for about an hour in a 350 degree oven. You'll know they are ready when the skin is roasted and deepens in colour and you can easily pierce the skin with a fork and the inside feels mushy. Let cool on a counter. 

Scrape the insides into a large bowl. Using a potato masher, crush the pumpkin until smooth. If it's cooked long enough, this will be quite easy. No need for a food processor. I freeze my pumpkin in freezer safe Ziploc bags one cup at a time. That way if I only need a little pumpkin, maybe for muffins, I just need to grab one bag and thaw it. 


So now we have our fresh (not canned) pumpkin. Time to add some all important pumpkin pie spice (this is what make pumpkin extra special!) a brick of room temperature cream cheese and some vanilla. 

small bites

While that mixes up, we can start to make the bottoms of the cheesecake. I wanted these mini pumpkin cheesecakes to be like finger food (testing out for some future hosting duties) and the easiest way I could think to do that was to bake them in muffin tins. This recipe will make 10 of these mini cheesecakes. To make our crust I mixed graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and a little sugar. The mixture will be crumbly, but will hold shape. 

baking wine

I bought muffin liners and put them into the muffin tin and then split the graham cracker crust evenly. I was looking for something in my kitchen drawers that I could use to tamp down the crust and found that a wine bottle stopper worked well. You want to really tap that crust down so it will hold shape when you eventually remove it from the muffin liner. 

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

After you bake the crusts in a 325 degree oven for 5 minutes, let cool on your counter for about 15 minutes. I use this time to start washing all the dishes and putting ingredients back. Then using an ice cream scoop, fill the cups with your pumpkin cheesecake filling. Bake for 20 minutes in the same 325 degree oven. 


Remove from oven and let cool completely. Place in your fridge for a few hours or even overnight. You want these small bites to be very cold. 

Once you're ready to serve, remove from the pan and start removing their liners. I did this on a plastic cutting board, you'll see why in a minute.

Small Bites Baking: Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

I made an easy whipped cream, piped it on top and then sprinkled just a little pumpkin pie spice to give it an extra dose of spice. This part is a little messy, thank goodness for the cutting board! 


Once they were ready to go, I cut out little circles of waxed paper for the mini pumpkin cheesecakes to sit on. You don't have to do this step normally, but I wanted to serve on top of some greenery and I thought this was more hygienic. 

small bites baking

I bought this circular cheese board on a whim while I was grocery shopping. In the two weeks we've had it, we've used it four times! I'm thinking it was a total win. If you're looking for a similar one for Christmas, this one is a beauty. I also started replacing all my kitchen towels with these red stripe ones from Williams Sonoma (they are on sale today!) it just makes the kitchen look more polished to have matching towels instead of 30 different coloured ones (which was the state of my kitchen)

l.l.bean christmas sweater

These bites didn't last long. We only had one left over and we saved it in the fridge and someone, not going to tell you who (it was me!) ate it the next day and it tasted great! I wouldn't leave them in the fridge for too long after piping on the whipped cream but a half day should be just fine. 

What I really liked about these bites, besides the incredible taste, is that I could prepare them so easily. I roasted the pumpkins one day, I could have made the cheesecake part the next day and then finally add the whipped cream and serve! If you're organized, they're actually a pretty easy dessert to make! 

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 box cream cheese softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup pumpkin 

Using a mixer beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add in the pumpkin and mix until combined.

Fill cooled muffin tins with graham cracker crust (recipe below) makes 10.

Bake at 325°F for 20 minutes and cheesecakes tops are set.

Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. 

Remove from muffin liners, pipe on whipped cream (recipe below) and finish with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. 

Graham Cracker Crust (this is a great base for many different desserts!) 

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F. Using a muffin tin, line 10 sections with muffin liners. 

Mix graham crackers and sugar in a heat proof bowl. Melt butter in the microwave.
Add to graham cracker mixture and mix with a fork until blended and crumbs start to stick together.  Divide mixture into 10 muffin liners, making sure to press each one down firmly. 
Bake at 325°F for 5 minutes. Let cool.

Whipped Cream

1 cup of whipping cream
1 cup of icing sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Using a mixer, beat the cream, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form