Individual Pumpkin Spice Cheesecakes with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

by Andie Mitchell on November 18, 2010

I should have mentioned it sooner, but, I have a thing with individual-sized desserts. And by thing I mean fixation. And by fixation I mean please call Dr. Drew and his addiction medicine specialist team.

And if he’s not available, just come over to my house. I’ll be that thing on the floor in the dark recesses of my kitchen, with spittle on my shirt, cooing to mini pumpkin spice cheesecakes as if I birthed them myself. And, well, in some very slight and unnerving way, I did.

I’m certainly not the first person to pimp out a pumpkin cheesecake. I’m not even going to be the last. But I’m moving in the direction to be the one who loves them and cradles them just frighteningly enough to make TLC consider adding me to their queue on Hoarders.

And I still can’t tell if that would flatter me.

I love cheesecake. Plain and simple.

I love that it’s slightly tangy with a sweet aftertaste, but not cloyingly so. I love how dense and thick and satiny its texture can be. The way it sort of just coats your tongue, then warms, then melts, like fudge. I’ll even go so far as to say that there’s something quite sexy about it. How deeply rich and intense the flavor.

But I’ll leave it at that, because this is a family show, and because Thanksgiving needs no provocative story lines. Not this year, anyhow.

To make these charming cheesecakes fall-flavored, I added pumpkin, a heavy handful of warm spices, a piped puff of cinnamon-spiked whipped cream, and a sprinkling of homemade pecan praline.

Because I enjoy taking things to new heights. I made them mini just, umm, well, you know what we talked about before, just because.

They have all the creaminess and spicy warmth that traditional pumpkin pie has, with its deliciously moist middle. But there’s something more luxurious here, more satisfying about the textural complements of crunchy nuts and cloud of whipped cream. And the spices are deeper too. I am very generous with those. The crust has an obscene amount of gingersnap flavor, and I find that you don’t need to grind gingersnaps to achieve that delicious zing. You can simply make your own with graham crackers and cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.

Whatever you do, just have some pumpkin cheesecake for me this holiday season. And don’t forget to call Dr. Drew, I’m really in bad shape over here.

Individual Pumpkin Spice Cheesecakes with Cinnamon Spiked Whipped Cream

Grind graham crackers in a food processor, or place them in a large, resealable plastic bag and bash them to smithereens with a hammer or rolling pin. Whisk in spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves until evenly combined.

Add melted butter and stir so that all crumbs are coated.

Coat your muffin tin generously with nonstick cooking spray. Press about a tablespoon of the buttered crumbs into each of the cups of your muffin tin. Firmly press them to create an even bottom and then a little rim that just begins to lift up the sides of the cup. You can also use paper cupcake liners, if you want to ensure that the cheesecakes don’t stick to the pan at all. That’s the safer route, but I like the presentation without them.

Bake for 8 minutes at 325°, just to set the crust and allow it to firm up.

Set the crusts aside and get to work on your cheesecake filling. In a large bowl, lightly beat the cream cheese, just to break it up.

Add pumpkin, spices, eggs, flour, and sugar. Beat just until combined. You don’t want to incorporate a lot of air into the batter, because cheesecake should be thick, dense, and satiny.

Pour the filling evenly into each of your prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheesecakes are puffed (moreseo around the edges) and they begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Let them cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then chill them in the refrigerator, in the pan, for at least 3 hours before serving. Run a butter knife around the sides of each of them to gently loosen before pulling them from the tin. Be careful here. Garnish with cinnamon whipped cream and pecan praline. Recipes to follow.

Individual Pumpkin Spice Cheesecakes with Cinnamon Spiked Whipped Cream

(recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

makes 12

For Crust:

5 oz graham crackers (9 whole crackers)

3 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (3/4 of a stick)

For Filling:

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

For whipped cream topping:

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For pecan praline garnish:

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

6 Tbsp unsalted butter (3/4 of a stick)

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Generously coat each cup of a standard sized muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Grind graham crackers in a food processor. Whisk in spices until evenly combined. Stir in melted butter and press mixture firmly into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin, flour, spices, salt and vanilla. Add the eggs and yolk; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour over prepared crust.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until center is just set. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
  6. Make praline: Line baking sheet with foil. Stir sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to boil; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Mix in pecans and spread mixture on prepared baking sheet. Bake until sugar syrup bubbles vigorously, about 8 minutes. Cool praline completely. Break into pieces. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight.)
  7. When ready to serve cheesecake (after chilling for at least 3 hours), make the whipped cream. Beat heavy cream until it begins to thicken. Slowly add sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  8. Garnish the cheesecakes with a generous dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with praline.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Evan Thomas November 18, 2010 at 8:54 am

These sound great. When it comes to Fall desserts, the spicier the better in my mind.

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Jessica @ How Sweet November 18, 2010 at 9:00 am

Ummm… I want one now. Immediately. Stat. Pronto.

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Leah @ Why Deprive? November 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

So . . . have I mentioned before that your kitchen sounds like the best place on earth?

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Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday November 18, 2010 at 9:14 am

Those cheesecakes look delightful, but I’m really just eyeing the pralines. I’m gonna make that as a snack!

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Julie @SavvyEats November 18, 2010 at 9:49 am

Yum. Please send some via express mail. ;)

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chelsea November 18, 2010 at 10:41 am

Just wondering how many does this make?

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Can You Stay for Dinner November 18, 2010 at 10:44 am

Ooo, I forgot to add that! Thanks for the reminder, Chelsea! It makes 12!

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spabettie November 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

oh yum… these look perfect. I love me some cheesecake, and I LOVE to make them mini!!

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Shanna, like Banana November 18, 2010 at 11:09 am

This is brilliant! I can even put aside my distaste for cream cheese to enjoy these little devils!

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Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman November 18, 2010 at 11:31 am

I love personal desserts. They’re cute and you get to eat three times as many with 1/2 the guilt.

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Can You Stay for Dinner November 18, 2010 at 11:36 am

Truer words have never been spoken, my friend.

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Tamar November 18, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Oh my word you are inspired. I have been racking my brains trying to come up with just the right dessert to bring to my giant family thanksgiving, and this is it. I’d like to make mini muffin cheesecakes (so everyone can have 6 of course!); do you have any suggestions for changing baking time or anything?

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Can You Stay for Dinner November 18, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Hey Tamar! I’m so glad you like them! I’d say to bake them for 15 minutes, then check them. Since you’re going to be putting whipped cream on the top of them, you can stick a toothpick into the center of one and see if it seems baked through (it will be a tiny bit jiggly, though it shouldn’t be too firm because it continues to cook while it cools). Good luck!

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peggyhogan November 18, 2010 at 2:16 pm

OMG, they look awesome. I almost picked cheesecake for our wedding cake but I didn’t have the guts… yum.

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Can You Stay for Dinner November 18, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Ooo that would have been so cool- I’ve never seen cheesecake at a wedding, but I’d really like to! I get that it’s a sort of polarizing dessert though- people either love it or hate it. You probably picked the right option with regular cake!

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Brittany November 18, 2010 at 3:47 pm

My husband and I are having a romantic thanksgiving this year, just the two of us. I’m totally going to make these!

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Ellen Renee November 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm

SO SCRUMPTIOUS LOOKING! Wish I was home baking this than at work! Have a question though – how well would the cheesecake portion hold up if made a day or two in advance? I have never baked a cheesecake before – I know – how sad! Was not sure if they would get a weird wet consistency. I would love to try these out on my family on Thanksgiving but I cook most of the meal myself and have enough on my plate without trying to add 1 more thing to do. My son is a pumpkin fanatic and I think he would just love these.

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Can You Stay for Dinner November 18, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Hey Ellen Renee! Thanks! I think you’d be fine if you made these up to two days in advance, but no longer than that! And don’t make the whipped cream or top them with it until the day you’re going to serve them, because whipped cream isn’t stable and won’t last! Best of luck!!

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adventuresofpretendcook November 18, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I love individual desserts. These look amazing!

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Can You Stay for Dinner November 18, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Thanks!!

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M.J. Jacobsen November 18, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Oh girl, you did it again……….I love pumpkin, and these will make all my guests happy! :)

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Stephanie @cookinfanatic November 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I must tell you that I’m not a huge cheesecake fan but these pumpkin cheesecakes may change my mind! They look so good.

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Erica November 19, 2010 at 8:03 am

De-lurking again to say that I will be making these in the near future (likely after I get back from visiting family for Thanksgiving). My boyfriend loves pumpkin pie and he loves cheesecake so I have a feeling this will be a real winner! :) I’ll let you know how it turns out!

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Can You Stay for Dinner November 19, 2010 at 8:31 am

Awesome! Enjoy, and please do let me know how they turn out!

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Cindy November 19, 2010 at 11:53 am

oh this is PERFECT because I am still looking for a dessert item to bring to Thanksgiving and I was just playing with individual pumpkin cheesecakes.

THANK YOU. Now I can stop trying to figure everything out and go shopping.

These should be easier to transport on our car ride. And I can assemble them before dessert.

maybe I’ll make a set before to “taste”. hehe

THANKS ANDREA!

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Jess-The Semi Abnormal Gal November 21, 2010 at 6:45 am

oh my goodness. pumpkin. cheesecake. bite-sized? will you marry me?

Thanks for sharing…I’ll be whipping these up asap!

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Can You Stay for Dinner November 21, 2010 at 7:49 am

Haha, YES!

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Heart4Him75 November 21, 2010 at 11:02 am

Do you think these would freeze well? (minus the whipped cream, of course) Can’t wait to try ‘em!

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Armil@pecan praline recipe November 21, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Wow! It’s my first time to see a spicy cheesecake. I wanna taste it so soon. Well, thanks for sharing. I’m gonna share it to my friends too.

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Can You Stay for Dinner November 22, 2010 at 6:34 am

Thanks Armil!

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Nancy's Perfect 10 November 24, 2010 at 10:31 am

I am giving these a whirl for tomorrow. Thanks for the awesome recipes!!

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Can You Stay for Dinner November 24, 2010 at 11:11 am

Fantastic! Enjoy!!

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Erica November 30, 2010 at 10:47 am

So I finally made these and I have to tell you that my boyfriend really likes these. In fact, he said this was probably one of the best desserts I have ever made (score!). That’s a huge compliment especially taking into account my cinnamon rolls….

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Individual Desserts December 6, 2010 at 9:29 am

I love individual desserts, mostly because I am an exercise enthusiast and calorie counter who enjoys a silver platter of decadent desserts but tries hard never to overindulge. Any calorie counter understands the importance of keeping high-fat desserts to a minimum, but an individual serving satisfies my cravings without breaking my calorie budget.

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Sarah witt September 21, 2011 at 8:44 am

How much would i substitute just pumpkin pie spice

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Sandy September 23, 2011 at 9:49 am

I am not sure whether to profess my love for you or my hatred…These look and sound like the most deliciously fantabulous desserts ever!!! (that’s the love) but….they also look like they could be very addicting, there for earning me a spot along with you on the Dr. Drew show! (that’s the hatred) eeek! I will have to make these this fall….

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Stacey October 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm

You are amazing! Okay, so I made these last night to my own disappointment when I read that they needed to be refrigerated 3+ hours. So in the fridge they went… Until tonight when I popped out of my chair immediately upon completing my dinner plate to whip up the cream and serve these puppies up!! And all I can say is OH! MY! WORD!! And how on earth are you staying skinny?! I mean seriously, these are amazing! I LOVE that you adapted the recipe to make them individual portions. These are excellent and I will definitely be making these again and sharing the recipe with everyone I know!! Thank you!!

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maureen November 1, 2011 at 7:08 am

can you freeze the pumpkin cheesecakes?How long to defrost and serve

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maureen November 1, 2011 at 7:09 am

can the pumpkin cheesecakes be frozen?

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admin November 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Hi Maureen, I’ve frozen them and they’ve been fine! Just put them in the fridge to thaw about 12 hours before you’ll want to serve them!

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Kelly @ Free Spirit Food November 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Yum! I just made four for a quick treat. So good.

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Suzy October 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm

your blog is absolutely fabulous!! I was looking for a mini pumpkin cheesecake for Canadian Thanksgiving, to impress my boyfriend’s siblings…! I think I picked your based primarily on your wit, honesty, and charisma… Can’t wait to try them tomorrow!!

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Nicky November 25, 2013 at 11:44 pm

When is best to take them out of the muffin pan?

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