Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

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Get ready to kickstart your fall with these creamy, pumpkin-spiced delights.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
Photo:

Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
Servings:
12

It's pumpkin spice season, y'all! When the weather turns cooler and leaves start falling, pumpkin desserts finally find their way onto our buffets and sideboards.

Filled with cozy fall spices and cradled in a classic graham cracker crust, these Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes are guaranteed to become a favorite addition to your fall desserts lineup. They're so delicious, no one will be able to eat just one!

These luscious cheesecakes can also be made ahead—simply store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to two days, then top with whipped cream before serving. Keep reading to discover our best tips and a few secrets for making these cheesecakes turn out perfectly every time.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
Photographer: Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Erin Merhar; Prop Stylist: Prissy Lee

How Do You Make Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes?

Making these mini cheesecakes is so easy, because you get to use muffin trays instead of having to track down a springform pan.

Start by lining your muffin tray with liners, either parchment or foil—it doesn't matter. Before we get too far down the road, let me just point out that even though these are "mini" cheesecakes, you are using a standard (not a mini, definitely not a jumbo) muffin tray. Okay, back to it.

Next, mix up the crust, press it into the lined muffin cups, and bake until set. While the crust cools, simply beat together the filling, then pour it into the cooled crusts.

While the cheesecakes bake, whip up the easy topping. After letting the cheesecakes cool completely so that the whipped cream doesn't slide right off, pipe it on top, and garnish with a little pumpkin pie spice.

Do You Have to Use a Water Bath for This Recipe?

Nope—and isn't that nice! Regular-sized cheesecakes are often placed in a larger pan that is then partially filled with warm water, then baked. This "water bath" promotes even baking and prevents the top of larger cheesecakes from cracking. But since these mini cheesecakes have a smaller surface area and spend less time in the oven, they aren't as susceptible to cracking.

What's The Difference Between Pumpkin Puree and Pie Filling?

Shopper alert! Pay close attention when picking out pumpkin puree at the grocery store. Canned pumpkin puree is 100% straight-up pumpkin, that's it. Pumpkin pie filling, which can frustratingly be located right next to the pumpkin puree, has added sugar and spices. Using pie filling instead of puree will result in cheesecakes that are much too sweet.

What's in Pumpkin Pie Spice?

Basically everything in your spice cabinet that smells like fall: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and sometimes even allspice. While amounts can vary between brands, cinnamon is often the dominant spice, followed by ginger, with hints of the bolder nutmeg and cloves. If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you can use apple pie spice, or feel free to mix up your own custom blend.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves mix together to make pumpkin pie spice.
Photography: Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling: Torie Cox / Southern Living

What Can I Use Instead of Maple Syrup?

Truth alert: Real maple syrup can be pricey. Before you swap it out for the much more affordable maple-flavored pancake syrup, opt for honey for a more natural fall flavor.

And if you don't have a piping bag, don't worry about it! Simply dollop the whipped cream on top of the cheesecakes with a spoon.

What's the Secret for Perfect Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes?

The best way to insure your cheesecakes look and taste perfect is actually really simple. When you're beating together the ingredients for the filling, pay close attention and don't overbeat the filling after you've added the eggs. It's fine to beat the cream cheese and pumpkin puree as much as you need to, but once you add the eggs, beat the filling just until the eggs are combined. Overbeating the eggs traps air in the filling, which can cause the cheesecakes to deflate and become dense when baked.

Do I Really Have to Use Room-Temperature Cream Cheese?

If you take only one thing from reading these words, let it be this: Room temperature cream cheese is a must when you're working with pumpkin puree. Combining cold cream cheese with pumpkin puree creates a separated, pebbly mixture—and while it can be beat into submission, it's a headache that can easily be avoided by using softened cream cheese.

What's The Best Way to Soften Cream Cheese?

Time. Don't be tempted to put that cream cheese in the microwave. Just. Don't. Do it. Set it on the counter for at least half an hour, then give it a good beating with the mixer to loosen it up before adding the pumpkin puree. I promise—you'll be glad you did.

Editorial contributions by Josh Miller.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from 1 [13.5-oz.] pkg. such as Keebler)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling

  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, from 1 (15-oz.) can

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Maple Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

  • Pumpkin pie spice, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup standard-size muffin pan with paper or foil muffin liners.

  2. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Spoon a heaping tablespoon and a half into each muffin liner. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or your fingers to press mixture evenly into bottoms of liners.

    graham cracker crusts in mini cups

    Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

    Bake crusts just until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.

    graham cracker crusts

    Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

  3. While the crusts cool, prepare the Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling: Beat cream cheese and pumpkin puree in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add sugar and vanilla, and continue beating on medium speed just until combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until incorporated after each addition. Add cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and beat just until combined, about 30 seconds. (Do not overbeat.)

    pumpkin cheesecake filling

    Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

  4. Pour cheesecake batter evenly over each crusts, filling about three-fourths full. Jiggle muffin pan to smooth tops of batter.

    unbaked mini pumpkin cheesecakes

    Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

    Bake in preheated oven until top of cheesecake is dry to the touch and slightly jiggles in the center, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cheesecakes to wire racks, and let cool, about 20 minutes. Remove from pan, and place on serving platter. Refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour.

    baked mini pumpkin cheesecakes

    Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

  5. Meanwhile, prepare the Maple Whipped Cream: Beat heavy cream, powdered sugar, and maple syrup in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a stand mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

    maple whipped cream

    Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

    Transfer whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe whipped cream on each cheesecake; sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

    mini pumpkin cheesecakes

    Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

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