Queenie Cooks: No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Minis

By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: November 24, 2019 | 8:00 a.m.

By the time Thanksgiving arrives, there’s a good chance that we’ve all heard “Pumpkin…” Everything to the point that it’s become pretty boring. On the other hand, what’s a Thanksgiving Feast with no pumpkin pie? It’s just one of those things like turkey and dressing and gravy and cranberry sauce that, to most of us, practically scream, “Thanksgiving is finally here!” So let’s face it; if you’re going to have even a remotely traditional Thanksgiving Feast, people expect it to feature a pumpkin-themed dessert.

Well, surprise! This year – with NO baking – you can halve your preparation time – and double the taste – when you whip up these creamy, delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake Minis? The only thing I’ve struggled with is what to call them! I tried “Pumpkin Delights” but, besides not being very helpful, it sounded a little “precious” to me. I liked “Parfaits” because of all the pretty, layered deliciousness, but then guests might expect ice cream. I even tried calling them just “Pumpkin Dessert Cups” (which I really hated) because besides sounding weird, if you serve them in tall, elegant stemware – although they taste just the same in mugs or even in a trifle bowl – the whole “cup” thing sounds pretty mundane. And honestly, while these are absolutely delicious for any occasion whether dressed up or down, they are PERFECT for Thanksgiving! So, since they’re meant to be prepared individually here (which also makes for faster service at dinner and easier clean-up afterward) I finally settled on Pumpkin Cheesecake Minis. Whatever you call them, trust me – these are anything but boring!

 A last-minute sprinkling of the crust crumbs makes the perfect finishing touch

First, they really do taste like a cross between pumpkin pie and cheesecake. But if you’ve ever been intimidated at the thought of baking a cheesecake, forget about it! This recipe eliminates not only the baking – there is none! – also pretty much cuts out ALL the mess and stress associated with making a cheesecake. The “crust” is simplicity itself. You just crumble up some graham crackers (or buy the graham cracker crumbs available in most any grocery store now), stir the crumbs together with some melted butter and a little sugar, and press that into individual stemmed glasses, mugs, even those clear plastic cups if you’ll be traveling with them. VOILA! You’ve got your crust. No baking!

Next, you whip up your “filling” layers, and here you have some options. I love an “eating a cloud” texture, so I like to add some of the Chantilly Cream to the pumpkin layer. But you can easily make a thicker, more intense filling by just eliminating that step in the recipe.  I like to compromise by doing both!  I pipe or spoon in the first pumpkin layer “plain” and then, for the second series of layers, I add some of the Chantilly Cream to the Pumpkin filling. It’s a beautiful presentation, as it gives me two slightly different colors – and flavors. But, again, for maximum speed and ease, just stick with the recipe as-is and I promise, it will be wonderful!

I listed the original spice measurements, but I often eliminate the cloves altogether (not a fan) and halve the nutmeg because to me, a little of that goes a long way.  You can safely experiment with your spices for this recipe, adding more – or less – to make your filling to your own taste preference. Also, I prepare the pumpkin cheesecake layer first, as it has to chill a bit before the final assembly of the three. Once you have your “fillings” made, you just spoon the crunchy “crust mixture” into your favorite bowls or stemware, spoon (or pipe) in the pumpkin layer, top with Chantilly Cream and repeat to suite your preference – and serving dishes.

These no-bake Pumpkin cheesecake minis are the perfect make-ahead addition to your family feast, ready to whisk out at a moment’s notice!

The recipe says it makes four servings.  Wellllll…. Perhaps that’s true – If you’re serving the Jolly Green Giant.  I filled four large, stemmed, iced beverage/wineglasses to the top and still had enough left over to make two more.  And if your gathering tends toward a “let’s all grab dessert and take it in front of the tv before the game starts” theme, you can make/serve them in disposable clear plastic beverage glasses instead. That even gives you the added bonus that you can just toss the empty cup into the trash – no half-time clean up!  Or if you’re not a fan of make-ahead individual servings, just assemble everything in a trifle bowl for a great centerpiece during dinner, then scoop individual servings into whatever dishes fit in with your after-dinner plans.

And whatever you decide to call them, these No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Whatever-you-call-thems really are delicious, with a flavor that’s both wonderfully sweet and tangy at once.  If you serve them the day you make them (or the next) you’ll have a light, fluffy, consistency – almost like a mousse. If you make them three days ahead, the layers will settle just a little in your refrigerator, lose a bit of the air, and you’ll have a little more a traditional cheesecake consistency.

And there you go! Now you’re ready to make one of the tastiest, easiest, “that looks like you worked on it all week” desserts ever!  And whatever you call them, just don’t be surprised if, after your family and friends dig in, you discover that you’ve started a whole new, family tradition! Enjoy!

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Minis

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 cup finely crushed graham crackers (available ready-crushed!)
  • ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves (slight)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree, chilled

Chantilly Cream

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Graham Cracker Crust

  • Combine crushed graham crackers and brown sugar, then stir in the melted butter until evenly moistened. Add 3 tablespoons of the crust mixture into 4 presentation glasses, (or cups, or bowls), gently pressing into an even layer.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

  • In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Fold pumpkin puree into the mixture. Cover and refrigerate.

Chantilly Cream

  • In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk heavy whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Assembly

Gently fold 1 cup Chantilly cream into the chilled pumpkin cheesecake mixture. Reserve the rest.
Pipe or spoon pumpkin cheesecake mixture atop crumb crust in glasses. Pipe or spoon a layer of Chantilly cream over the pumpkin cheesecake. Repeat the three layers, but don’t press down the repeat crust layer. End with Chantilly cream layer. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Just before serving, sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of the crumb crust over the Chantilly cream.

Prepare for accolades!

NOTE: Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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