Creamy, pumpkin cheesecake spiked with bourbon and smothered with buttery pecan praline, the perfect ending to any holiday meal. Mini Bourbon Pumpkin Praline Cheesecakes will soon become an annual tradition.
I don’t usually cave to trendiness….but sometimes I have to bend my own rules a bit. Especially, when it comes to sharing some of my favorite recipes. One of the ways I learned to cook was through my tendency to be a people pleaser…..or a people impresser. Whenever a holiday would pop up I would try to come up with the most insanely, mind-blowing dessert ever and then make it….and take it to whatever holiday gathering I was invited to. Most of the time it was Thanksgiving at my in-laws house and this is how I wanted to wow them when my husband and I were dating. Always through some kind of food item. Whether it be these ridiculously tasty stuffed mushrooms (you gotta make them…I mean, really) or this crazy Death by Chocolate Cake….I would always shoot for the moon.
Sometimes it didn’t work out…like the one time I made a carrot cake for my brother-in-laws birthday and my oven broke. The cake was raw in the middle….like pudding….but I didn’t know the oven was broken and fell into a puddle of depression because I ruined the cake. I may have even blamed Martha Stewart but that’s a story for another time. And THEN there was the time I made my first cheesecake and added too much amaretto…and under baked it. And served it anyway…everyone at the table was a “BIG” fan. 🙁 But then there was this one time…at band camp (just kidding)…when I made a cheesecake blended with pumpkin puree, spiced up with THIS pumpkin pie spice and topped with with these crumbled pecan pralines. It was killer. No, seriously.
I made the recipe over and over again, year after year…tweaking it slightly until….this. THIS version…but mini…Mini Bourbon Pumpkin Praline Cheesecakes were born. Perched perfectly atop a gingersnap crust, creamy spiced pumpkin cheesecake kissed slightly (ok…maybe like a deeply passionate kiss) with bourbon and then topped with a rich, buttery pecan praline. A little bit southern and totally worthy of any holiday party. Or heck, just whip them up because you’re celebrating the new movie line up on Netflix….they’re seriously amazing and so easy. You can adjust the amount of bourbon to your liking or leave it out totally but I was really going for a quick peck on the cheek amount of bourbon but my hand tipped a bit too much…and voila…perfection. Don’t mess with a good thing. 🙂
Mini Bourbon Pumpkin Praline Cheesecakes
For the crust
- 1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the cheesecake filling
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup solid pack pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the praline topping
- 1 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- pinch of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, cinnamon, butter and salt until moistened. Divide the mixture evenly among the wells of a mini cheesecake pan and press down firmly. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in flour and spices. Add eggs 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin, bourbon and vanilla. Divide the mixture evenly among the wells of the cheesecake pan filling to just below the top of the pan.
- Bake the cheesecakes for 20 minutes until the edges are firm but the center is still jiggly. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool transfer to the refrigerator and chill overnight.
- When the cheesecakes are cool, remove them from the pan and place on a wire rack.
- In a large saucepan over medium high heat, combine the sugar, half and half, butter, baking soda and vanilla. Stir the mixture until boiling and the sugar has disolved completely. Turn the heat to medium low and continue stiring until the mixture reaches 238 – 241 degrees on a candy thermometer or soft ball stage. (The mixture will begin to take on a light caramel color.) Stir in the pecans and remove from the heat. Stir the mixture until it begins to thicken and becomes creamy. Using a spoon drop heaping tablespoons of praline mixture onto the top of each cheesecake and allow to cool. Mixture will harden when cool. (If the praline mixture seizes because it cooled too quickly, add more half and half one tablespoon at a time until the mixture becomes creamy again.)
- Chill the cheesecakes until ready to serve. Can be made up to 24 hours in advance.