Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

During my parents’ visit earlier this month, we picked up two pie pumpkins during our trip to the apple orchard. The first one I used to make this delicious soup. The second one I had reserved for something sweet. I went ahead and roasted it, pureed it and ran it through a mesh strainer to lose some of the water (and still ended up with about 3 cups of pumpkin puree). Then I thought to myself – what in the world should I make? I seriously contemplated pumpkin pie. Tis’ the season after all. But I knew I would regret making, and then eating an entire pumpkin pie by myself. (And transporting via bicycle to work just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen). And so I found myself thinking back to these cheesecake bites I had made earlier this year.

Of course! Pumpkin cheesecake bites. The perfect solution, because I love pumpkin cheesecake even more than I love pumpkin pie. Here’s why it’s a great idea 1) No pie crust involved. 2) Instead you get to use spicy gingersnaps. 3) By making them cupcake size, the resulting crust to cheesecake ratio to (in my opinion) strikes the perfect balance. Oh, and 4) you can make as few or as many as your stomach desires.

I smothered mine in this salted butter caramel sauce I had leftover in my fridge. Don’t wait for a special occasion or Thanksgiving to make these. Make them for your lunches during the week. Or as something to tide you over while you’re making dinner. Or for no reason at all…

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

makes 1 dozen

**********
The Crust 
1 cup crushed gingersnaps
3 teaspoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
 
The Filling
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon bourbon
**********

1. Preheat oven to 325º. Line a cupcake tin with papers.

2. Pulse gingersnaps in food processor to a fine crumble. Add brown sugar and melted butter and mix together. Scoop approximately 2 tablespoons of cookie crust in each cupcake paper. Use the bottom of a small glass (my glasses from beer festivals are just about the perfect size for such a job) to pat down cookie crumbs. Refrigerate while making the cheesecake filling.

3. Cram together cream cheese and brown sugar until well combined. Mix in cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Beat in egg. Fold in pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and bourbon and mix until smooth.

4. Using an ice cream scoop, distribute filling among cupcake papers, filling about 3/4 full.

5. Bake at 325º for about 20 minutes. Cool in pan and refrigerate until set.

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