With the usual overload of desserts over the Thanksgiving holiday, I opted to make a half-recipe of this week's Heavenly Cakes bake-along choice, the Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake, and to try out my new mini-cheesecake pan. I started out a couple of days early, making a full recipe of the caramel glaze in the "Bourbon Butterscotch Caramel" variation. Despite sticking to the full recipe because I thought it would be too hard to control the temperature of a half-recipe, my first attempt went past done to 'tastes a little burnt'. Threw that out, and started over. This time I got out my infrared thermometer which makes monitoring the temps easier, and ended up with lovely bourbon-flavored caramel.
I wasn't sure of the best way to cook the mini-cheesecakes. Rose uses a bain marie for the full size one, and lets it cook in the oven for an hour after baking. All I had to go on was the sample recipe that came with the mini-cheesecake pan, which didn't use a bain marie, baked a much shorter time (of course), and had no long cooling period. I decided to try a hybrid: use a bain marie, cook for the shorter time, then let them cool in the bain marie for a little while before moving them to a cooling rack.
First off was making the crust: gingersnaps, pecans, sugar, and a little salt ground fine in the Cuisinart, then with melted butter added. I put a generous tablespoon of this mixture in each opening of the pan, and did my best to get the crust mixture to go a little way up the sides. That wasn't very successful, so I just tamped the crumbs into the bottom and called it good.
On top of the crust came the actual cheesecake mixture: pumpkin and turbinado sugar cooked together briefly, then processed in the Cuisinart. Then in went cream, cream cheese, an egg and egg yolk, this all got processed for a little while, and it was done. None of the usual 'pumpkin pie' spices, which was a Good Thing as far as I was concerned. Then it was into the oven. I baked them about 20 minutes, which might have been a hair too long--they were definitely set at that point. The excess cheesecake mixture, sans crust, baked in a custard cup for 25 minutes.
After being refrigerated overnight, the mini cheesecakes came out of the pan beautifully when I pushed up on the removable bottom of each section. Garnished with a pecan half and a drizzle of the Bourbon Butterscotch Caramel, they looked extremely elegant among the Thanksgiving dessert choices. As most people opted to take tastes of several desserts, the mini size was just right.
Results: These were lovely, with a very pretty color and a wonderful taste. In the dessert arms race they lost out to the superpower of Black Bottom Pie, but not much could top that. I do think the cheesecake was the second choice for most people. I'll be making this one again, and probably in the mini size.