Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and while I would like to slow the days down to about half the speed, I can’t fight it – it’s now almost a mere two weeks away!! Now I’m depressed.
Do you ever get that feeling where you are looking forward to something and want it to come quickly and yet you don’t because you know that once it comes it will be gone just like that? I do anytime there is something that exciting to look forward to. Thanksgiving and Christmas are just two examples.
At this moment the thing I am looking forward to the most about Thanksgiving is actually the day after. Whoa! Stop there – don’t tell me you like BLACK FRIDAY?!?! Nooo – I do NOT like that cursed day (I’m sorry if I have offended any shop and dealoholics out there – even though I have never seen that many great deals…)! Okay, so if you are looking forward to the Friday after Thanksgiving but not for black Friday, then what on earth are you looking forward to?
PEACE, QUIET, and NATURE! I am looking forward to our first family trip down to Lost Maples State Natural Area – the only place where fall actually happens in Texas, apparently. I know, it’s crazy when some of you were getting your fall colors in October that we are just getting ours in November, but that’s Texas; fall happens in winter, winter happens in late winter, and summer takes up the rest of the year (oh, sometimes we have some nice spring weather too, but that can happen in spring, fall or winter)!
Anyway, now that you get my point that Thanksgiving is coming upon us way too fast for our own good, let me help it along with a dessert that would not only be positively perfect for the holiday, but awesome all fall long!
These Pumpkin Brownie Cheesecakes are one of the highlights of my fall treats thus far. Just think about it for a minute. Chocolate crust, brownie, and pumpkin cheesecake. If you are not ready to run to the kitchen just yet, think about it again. Are you ready now?
To convince you a little further, not only are these cheesecakes flavorful, flavorsome, luscious, and palatable, but they are easy! Which makes them even more perfect for Thanksgiving.
So swap the pumpkin pie or labor laden pumpkin cheesecake with these brownie cheesecakes – trust me, you will be just as pleased if not happier!
The lowdown: these miniature Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies are the perfect (and I do mean perfect) Thanksgiving and all around fall treat consisting of a chocolate wafer crust, brownie layer on the bottom, pumpkin cheesecake to cover, and chocolate chips sprinkled on top!
For the crust½ C. chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (grind in a food processor or in a zip top bag with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer)
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
For the brownies1/4 C. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1" pieces
½ C. + 1/8 (2 tbsp.) C. sugar
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
For the cheesecake1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 C. + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 C. pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
CrustPreheat oven to 350°F. and spray a muffin pan lightly with cooking spray.
Melt 2 tbsp. butter.
In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, 2 tbsp. butter and sugar. Stir until the crumbs are well moistened. Pat the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottoms of the muffin pan.
Melt remaining 1 tbsp. butter and drizzle over the crusts.
Bake until the crust is firm, about 5 minutes.
Turn oven temperature down to 325° F. (see note below).
While the crusts are cooling, make the brownies and cheesecake.
BrowniesIn a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Let cool slightly. Using a whisk, combine sugar, cocoa and salt in a small/medium bowl. Pour butter in a steady stream into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to blend.
Whisk in vanilla and then the egg, mixing vigorously.
Add flour and stir until just combined (be careful not to overmix).
CheesecakeIn a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin puree until smooth. Mix in egg, heavy cream, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until just combined.
Place a spoonful (about 1 tbsp.) of brownie batter on top of each crust (see note below).
Next, divide cheesecake batter between crusts/brownies, pouring on top of brownie batter.
Bake for 50-52 minutes (please read note below!) or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs when inserted.
Remove from oven and cool in pan for 20 minutes. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before removing cheesecakes from pan.
Garnish cheesecakes by pressing some chocolate chips onto the tops. Serve with fresh (or store bought) whipped cream.
!NotesRegarding how to insert the brownie batter: I did it two ways - so you can decide! The first was to put spoonfuls of batter on top of each crust and then pour the cheesecake batter on top. The second was to pipe the brownie batter into the cheesecake batter (I did this using a zip top bag with a corner snipped off). It really doesn't matter which way you do it – it all depends on how much effort you want to put into this and the kind of effect you are going for. With putting the brownie batter on the bottom and then topping with cheesecake, it is just a little bit less hassle and the effect is going to be a nice layer of brownie beneath the cheesecake. If you decide to pipe in the batter then that will be a little more work (but not nearly enough to deter you if that is the effect you want!) and the effect will be little cheesecakes with a brownie surprise in the middle. Either way works and either way is good – I leave the decision to you!!
Regarding oven temperature: One thing you could try if you are feeling adventurous that I personally did NOT try but will next time, is to bake the cheesecakes at 350° f. (as opposed to 325°) for about 20 minutes – again you would have to be feeling rather adventurous, but if you do try it, let me know the results!
Regarding baking times: If you pipe the brownie batter into the cheesecake batter then they most likely will be done at about 50-52 minutes. Now if you put the brownie batter on the bottom, then you will find that at 50-52 minutes they will still be a little bit underdone. Personally, my taste testers preferred it that way as they would rather have a soft brownie than an overdone one. But if underdone brownies are not your thing then I would bake them slightly longer – but not too longer!! much (until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs when inserted) :)
FINALLY... regarding the topping: You can top these with ganache if so desired (which would be pretty awesome), but if you don't want to take the time, then trust me when I say that a little coating of chocolate chips works very well for these – if they didn't, I would have topped with ganache, because I am a very ganache happy person! The chocolate chips work as a nice topping without overpowering the other flavors (you have got to taste that brownie and pumpkin cheesecake meld together...).
If you do decide to do ganache however, let me recommend Alton Brown's ganache, but cutting the down the ingredients to about ¼th of the original recipe. That would make it ½ C. bittersweet chocolate and ½ C. heavy cream.