NOVEMBER 21, 2011


Last year at this time, I had a crazy idea to start a frozen dough and pastry line. A few of my friends hosted an open house to introduce my new edibles. The parties were fun. Chatting with other food lovers was a treat. Then it was time to get to work. Making 3,000 pastries, doughs, pies, and tarts was tiring, but my arm muscles never looked better.


After the last order was delivered, I realized that this could not be a one woman show. If I was going to pursue this, I need a commercial kitchen, a helper – or two, and to be 25 years younger. I shelved the idea of maketing my goodies, but during the process, some pretty good treats were born.

One of my favorite recipes are these Mini Pumpkin-Praline Cheesecakes. Always a sucker for anything mini, this cake is just as good made in a 10″ springform pan. An added bonus, they freeze well. Sometimes, I will catch my kids and their friends rifling through the additional freezer housed in the garage. They don’t mind them frozen. However, I prefer mine with my late afternoon cup of tea.

Mini Pumpkin-Praline Cheesecake
yield:  6-7 dozen minis or 1-10″ cheesecake

for the praline:
1 cup golden brown sugar
6 Tbsp(3 oz.) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup pecans, chopped + toasted

for the crust:
1 1/2 cups(7 oz.) gingersnap cookies
1 1/2(6 oz.) cups hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup(2 oz.) unsalted butter, melted

for the filling:
32 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups organic, cane sugar
3 Tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
4 large, organic eggs
15 oz. organic pumpkin puree
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

• preheat oven to 325*
• place mini silicone muffin pan on rimmed baking sheets, lined with parchment.

for the praline:
• line a small, rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil.
• in small saucepan, melt the butter.
• add the brown sugar and combine. bring to a boil. once boiling, stir to combine.
• mix in pecans and coat well.
• spread mixture on the prepared baking sheet.
• bake for 10 minutes or until bubbly all over.
• once cooled, break into pieces. can be stored in a air tight container for 1 day.

for the crust:
• in the work bowl of a food processor, pulse the cookies, brown sugar, and the hazelnuts(I use hazelnut flour instead). prosess until it all resembles coarse sand.
• with the machine running, add the melted butter through the tube of the food processor.
• pulse until it all comes together and is more moist than dry.
• using 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons of crust, place in the muffin cups. using the bottom of an 1/8″ measuring cup, press the crust into the muffin tin. repeat unitl you have used up all the crust.
• bake for 10 minutes.  cool on a wire rack.

for the filling:
• in the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese until creamy. add the sugar and mix well.
• beat in the all the dry ingredients (flour and spices).
• in a small bowl, crack the eggs and add the vanilla.
• add the eggs, one at a time.
• beat in the pumpkin until well combined.
• remove bowl from mixer and using a rubber spatula, mix thoroughly.
• using a 1 tablespoon scooper, fill muffin cups to the top with cheesecake batter.
• bake for 12-14 minutes, alternating pans front to back and top to bottom.
• immediately upon removing from the oven, sprinkle each cheesecake with crumbled praline.
• once completely cooled, freeze cheesecakes. once frozen, pop cheesecakes out of the silicone trays.
• line an air tight container with parchment. place cheesecakes in the container.  freeze until ready to eat.
• 1 hour before eating, remove from freezer and defrost on a platter (or do what my kids do, eat them frozen, right out of the freezer).