“More pumpkin?! When are you going to be done with that stupid can?”
My friend, Randi, dislikes almost everything that’s not chicken fingers. I’ve been trying to broaden her palate by offering her some of my non-chicken finger kitchen creations. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Despite her distaste for pumpkin, I managed to lure Randi into helping me make these black-bottom mini caramel pumpkin cheesecakes — quite a mouthful, both literally and phonetically.
She’s right: This can of pumpkin purée seems to be unending, but I’m not complaining, and neither were the visitors I had over the next three days. People loved these things. I even went for some style points — putting the cakes on a plate, drizzling them with caramel sauce and topping them off with a Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kiss right before my guests’ eyes.
The hardest part was the 10 minutes Randi and I spent trying to figure out how to use my new food processor. It took approximately five minutes for us to realize we hadn’t put the blade back in after filling the cup with Oreos. It took another five for us to realize we had to match up the little dots to get the motor to turn on. When it finally began chopping, you would have thought we won the Super Bowl.
♦8 whole Oreos, ground in food processor
♦1 1/2 tbl. melted butter
♦8 oz. softened cream cheese
♦1/2 c. sugar
♦1/2 c. pumpkin purée
♦1 tsp. vanilla
♦1/2 tsp. cinnamon
♦1/4 tsp. nutmeg
♦Caramel sauce (from a bottle works — I used Hershey’s)
♦12 Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses, unwrapped
Combine crushed Oreos and melted butter in a bowl. Spoon into 12 muffin cups that have been coated well with cooking spray. Push into the bottom of each cup so the crust is flat and packed. Partially bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, and remove from oven. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin until smooth. Beat in egg, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour evenly into cups, about 3/4 full. Spoon a teaspoon of caramel onto the tops of the cups and swirl with toothpick. Bake 25-28 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool completely. When serving, top with caramel and Kiss.
Total time? 10 minutes prep (20 minutes if you don’t know how to use a food processor), 25 minutes bake.
Cost? $2.69 bag of Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses, $2.19 can of pumpkin purée, $1.79 caramel sauce, $2.99 Oreos, $1 cream cheese.
Overall success relative to expectations? 7 out of 10. I really enjoyed the taste of these, and I’m not even a big cheesecake fan. If I had a mini-cheesecake cup tin, this adventure might have earned an 8; it was difficult to get the cakes out of my muffin tin, and I lost some crust in transit. Make sure you wait until the cakes are completely cooled to take them out. I also cut a corner by using caramel sauce instead of the Lifehouse caramel dip Picky Palate recommends, so the coating wasn’t as substantial — or enjoyable — as it could have been. Either way, Randi didn’t hate them (though she substituted out the Kiss for some chocolate chips), so I’ll consider it a victory.