Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Oh, everything is so cute when it’s miniature! When I saw these Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes, I knew I just had to try them.  I love cheesecake and I love pumpkin, so why not combine the two?

And really, can I just take a minute to say how awesome pumpkin, and squash in general,  is? I mean, you can use it in so many ways:  breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts! Sweet and savory!

These cheesecakes are obviously as sweet as can be.  They took a little work, but they are worth the effort.  Plus, you can make them ahead of time, which is great if you are planning a big meal.  Getting as much done ahead of time means less stress!

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients
Crust
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch of salt
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Filling
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (I used homemade)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I used homemade)
3 large eggs

Topping
1/2 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

What To Do
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a pan with 12 muffin liners. Note that this crust recipe does not work in regular pie pans and only as mini cheesecakes.

Crust
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Beat in the butter at low speed until thoroughly combined and a dough forms. If you have trouble incorporating it, use your hands. It’ll be sticky.

Divide the dough between the muffin liners. Press the dough down with the bottom of a shot glass.  Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the surface of the crust no longer appears wet.

After baking, the crust will still be soft but will firm slightly as it cools. Let cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the cheesecake.

Cheesecake Filling
Turn the oven down to to 325°F.

Beat the cream cheese at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, molasses, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, salt and pumpkin pie spice and beat on low until well combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating on low after every addition until thoroughly incorporated. Do not over mix!

Fill each muffin liner to the top with cheesecake batter and bake for 20 minutes or until the middles of the cheesecakes are set and don’t jiggle when the pan is tapped.

Remove from the oven and let the cheesecakes cool in the pan.

Once completely cool (about 1 hour), remove the cheesecakes from the pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. The wrappers come off neatly before and after refrigeration.

Refrigerate the cheesecakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Topping
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the cream just until hot, steamy and on the verge of simmering. Remove from the heat.

Pour this over the chocolate chips and stir until all the chocolate chips are completely melted.

Let cool for about 20-30 minutes or until room temperature before pouring over the chilled cheesecakes.

My Comments
Crust:  It took mine several minutes in the mixer to become dough and I did have to stop a couple of times to scrape around the bottom of the bowl.  Don’t panic if yours looks like crumbs for a while.  I also used a small cookie scoop to distribute the dough and then used a wooden tamper to pack it in (see photo below).  I think next time, I will try using a regular graham cracker crust.

Cheesecake Filling:  I used a larger cookie scoop to distribute the filling.  This reduces spills and batter going where it doesn’t belong.  I did have a little leftover batter, which I just put into a small ramekin and baked it without a crust.

Topping:  I love ganache but I actually didn’t have enough cream to make enough (oops!), so I decided to follow the directions on the bag of chocolate chips to melt chocolate for dipping.  I made half the recipe, which is 1/2 a cup of chips melted with 1/2 a tablespoon of shortening.  I did this on the stove, which always works better for me than the microwave.  Then I topped it with mini chocolate chips…because they’re so darn cute!

Some Photos Along the Way
Crust ingredients before adding butter
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

The crust dough after adding butter
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Dividing crust dough between muffin liners
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

The baked crust
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Cheesecake filling ingredients before adding eggs
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Cheesecake filling with an egg
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

The baked mini cheesecakes, cooling
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Mini cheesecakes with topping
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

All twelve mini pumpkin cheesecakes
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

 

Whew! Really, these aren’t hard, just a bit time consuming.  And wow, once you take a bite, you’ll forget all about all your troubles! Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but these are quite tasty…and maybe for a few minutes you’ll bask in the pumpkin-y cheesecake-y goodness of these adorable little treats.

Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

So I ended up buying four pie pumpkins this year! Come on, they were 50 cents each! I’m surprised I didn’t get more, but maybe I held back because I had other squash filling my wagon too.  Oh how I love going to the pumpkin patch and getting all kinds of fall favorites!

Since my trip to the patch, I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to use all that yummy squash.  The other night, I had the opportunity to look through some old magazines and found this Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce recipe.  I was immediately intrigued and went out to get the ingredients I didn’t have.

This tortellini dish has a really nice flavor – the pumpkin is mild, but if you use canned pumpkin, it might be stronger.  Both Matt and I really enjoyed it and I think the leftovers the next day were even better!

Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce
from the October 2012 issue of Food Network Magazine

Ingredients
kosher salt
2 9-oz packages of cheese tortellini
1 T unsalted butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 c canned pure pumpkin
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/4 c heavy cream
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
freshly ground pepper
chopped fresh parsley, for topping (optional)

What To Do
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the tortellini and cook as the label directs.  Reserve 1/2 c cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the pumpkin and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Stir in the cream and bring to a low boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the cheese and cook until thick, about 1 more minute.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tortellini to the skillet and toss with the sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed.

Serve and top with more cheese and parsley, if desired.

My Comments
I made a few substitutions:  onion instead of shallot, homemade pumpkin instead of canned, dried nutmeg instead of fresh, fresh thyme (it’s still going strong in my garden) instead of parsley.

Some Photos Along the Way
Cooking the tortellini – mine only took 3 minutes
Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

Cooking the onion in butter
Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

Butter and onion plus pumpkin and nutmeg
Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

Now with the heavy cream added
Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

The sauce has thickened and the cheese has been added
Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

I added the sauce to the tortellini because my skillet wasn’t big enough to add the tortellini to the sauce.
Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

 

Pumpkin pasta is a great way to celebrate some fall flavors.  Pumpkin is pretty good for you too, so bonus! This recipe was fairly quick to put together and I will definitely be making it again.   I hope you can try it out soon and I hope you all are enjoying this fall season.  Have a great weekend!

Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Hello! First and foremost, Happy Veteran’s Day! A big thank you to all you veteran’s out there! If it weren’t for you, our lives would be much different.  And I, for one, am very thankful for all the blessings in my life that come from such freedom.

Over the weekend I was able to get to the farmer’s market and purchased two pie pumpkins.  I’m now all set to make all kinds of pumpkin goodness.  If you’ve never made your own pumpkin purée, be sure and check out my step-by-step post on how to do so.  Today I decided to try something new and made these granola bars.  Everyone needs a good seasonal snack, right? I think these could possibly double as breakfast too!

 

Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

 

Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
slightly adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Ingredients
3 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (want to make your own?)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup pumpkin purée (want to make your own?)
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries

What To Do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 by 8 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk oats, spices, and salt together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, honey, and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour over oats and stir well, until all of the oats are moist. Stir in chocolate chips.

Evenly press oat mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. The pumpkin keeps the bars moist, so make sure they are golden and set-you don’t want them to be under baked. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, cut into bars. Remove from pan and let cool completely.

My Comments
I would wait more than 5 minutes to cut into bars.  I think I waited about 10 and they were still fairly warm and I didn’t get a clean cut.

These are the chewy kind of granola bars – not hard and crunchy.

 

Oh, I love leaving the oven door open after baking on a cool day and today’s a great day to do so.  It’s chilly and rainy out – a recipe for the perfect day to bake up something scrumptious, like these Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Bars.  Share one with a friend today!

Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Pumpkin Brownies

Ugh, so I’m having one of those nights where I’m exhausted but can’t sleep.  It’s really frustrating but I’m making lemonade here…rather than lay there irritated that I’m not asleep I’m sharing a yummy recipe with you! I’m sorry I haven’t posted much the last few weeks.  I’ve just been busy and not really cooking or baking much.  Oh, I’ve been in the kitchen plenty dealing with a lovely variety of produce – pears, apples, peaches, tomatoes (oh my!) –  but it’s nothing to write home about.  Or blog about.  And I’ve been outside trying to get outdoor stuff done before it got cold.  Like yesterday…it was really cold out! I’m SO glad I got all my patio plants cleaned up and brought in just in the nick of time.

But anyway, back to sharing a yummy recipe.  Yesterday I made these Pumpkin Brownies for the first time and they turned out really well.  There’s pumpkin everything out there right now and here’s my contribution.

 

Pumpkin Brownies

 

Pumpkin Brownies
from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients
Brownie Batter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate; coarsely chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes (that’s one and a half sticks – 12 T)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Pumpkin Filling
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (want to make your own?)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (want to make your own?)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ganache Topping
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

What To Do
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl at medium (50% power) for 3-4 minutes or until butter is melted. While the chocolate is melting, prepare the pumpkin layer. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, pumpkin puree, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer well combined and smooth. Set aside.

Once the butter is melted, remove the bowl from the microwave and stir until chocolate is melted. Whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Gradually add in flour; stir until just combined.

Spread 3/4 the batter into prepared pan. Spoon pumpkin filling by tablespoonfuls evenly over batter. Spoon remaining brownie batter over filling. Use a knife or wooden skewer to cut through the batter several times in different directions to create a swirled pattern. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes – do not overbake.

Remove to cooling rack to cool completely. Before serving, prepare the ganache.

To make the ganache, pour the chopped chocolate into a medium mixing bowl, set aside. Pour the heavy cream into a microwave safe measuring cup (Pyrex) and microwave on high for about 1 minute or until bubbles begin to form on the surface. Take care to not overheat because the cream will boil over. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for about 3 minutes. Use a small whisk to combine the mixture into a smooth chocolate glaze. Spoon the ganache over the brownies.

My Comments
Microwaves are different so keep an eye on your butter/chocolate melting.  You can also do this on the stove – just melt the butter then remove from the heat and throw the chocolate in and stir until smooth…you might need to put it back on the heat depending on how small/big you chopped the chocolate.

I recommend preparing the ganache earlier than just before serving.  That way it has time to set up a bit and it’s easier to spread on top.  Also, I cut my brownies first and then put the ganache on top.

I added a pinch of pumpkin pie spice to my ganache just for a little extra somethin’.

 

Fall is in full swing and enjoying pumpkin food is a great way to embrace the season.  As they say, Happy Fall, Y’all! 🙂

 

Pumpkin Toffee Chocolate Chip Muffins

Good Monday morning! I say mornings are always better with a muffin.  I think that would brighten anyone’s day, especially a Monday! A magnificent Monday morning muffin.

Many of you know that parts of Central Illinois had bad storms yesterday and a tornado touched down too.  My heart goes out to those experiencing loss and are hurting.  I want to challenge you, and myself, to help out in some way.  Sometimes I think it’s hard to figure how to help when something like this happens far away, but this time it’s nearby.  Whether it’s donating money, going to help clean up, cleaning out your house and donating items you don’t need/want, checking on friends you know in those areas to see if they’re okay, or taking a basket of muffins, I’m sure any ounce of love would be appreciated.  I don’t know all the organizations that are putting together efforts to help, but if you do a quick search online, I’m sure you can find something.  I do know the Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to help and their number is (217) 373-7832.

 

Here’s a recipe for some muffins that would make a great Fall gift basket sure to bring a smile.  Trust me, these are super delicious!

 

Pumpkin Toffee Chocolate Chip Muffins

 

Pumpkin Toffee Chocolate Chip Muffins
slightly adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod
makes 12 muffins

Ingredients
Muffins
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 3/4 t pumpkin pie spice (want to make your own?)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c pumpkin purée (canned or homemade)
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c toffee bits
1/3 c mini chocolate chips

Streusel topping
3 T all-purpose flour
2 T brown sugar
2 T cold butter
1/4 cup toffee bits
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

What To Do
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, and stir until just combined. Stir in the toffee bits and mini chocolate chips.

Divide the batter among 12 lined muffin cups, filling each cup 3/4 full.

Streusel: In a small bowl combine the flour and brown sugar.  Cut the butter into the mixture using your fingers (or two knives, a fork or a pastry blender) until mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Stir in the toffee bits and mini chocolate chips.  Sprinkle about a tablespoon of the mixture over each unbaked muffin.

Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

My Comments
Holy Yum! These are so good, especially when still warm from the oven…the crunch on top and the soft warm muffin part – oh my!

Mine took 26 minutes in the oven for some reason.

Mini chocolate chips are the cutest things ever!

 

I hope you try these muffins out.  They are so tasty and good for breakfast or a snack any time during the day.  Here’s to a marvelous Monday!