Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake Puffy Cups

Here's something which I made very recently for a bake sale we were having at work, and the popularity of which took me completely by surprise. I originally made these in the form of galettes (round, flat pastries with a cheesecake center), but the super-puffiness of the galette with cheesecake at its heart was a little too flaky for my liking, so I decided to try an alternative presentation.  I liked it this way much better -- not only was it more compact, so the pastry dough didn't get as dry and overly-flaky, but the look is quite unique, which always appeals to me. ;) Since puff pastry can be found in the freezer section and does not necessarily have to be made from scratch (you can try to do it yourself, if you've got the time & patience...and I have neither), you'll have to set it out to thaw well in advance.  But believe me when I say that you will look like a genius or a culinary master if you've never used puff pastry before and use it for this recipe.  People will be so impressed with you!  ;)  The pre-made pastry makes this a super-easy recipe, and one that can be made in parts, the first part well ahead of time.  (Especially handy when dealing with lack of time during the day of a big event in your life!)  In my opinion, the hardest part of this whole process was removing the puffs from the muffin tins without completely destroying the pastry if it gets stuck to the sides of the muffin well.  Also, it is worth noting that you will need to use large/jumbo muffin tins, not small ones, containing 6 muffin wells.  The smaller muffin tins simply will not be big enough in this case.

1 8-oz brick softened cream cheese (can be reduced fat)
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
½ C sugar
C brown sugar
½ can (about 7 oz) mashed pumpkin
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 puff pastry sheets
Decorative sugar and extra pumpkin pie spice for garnish
Powdered sugar

Take puff pastry out of freezer and place on counter at least 1 hour ahead of any other preparation so it can thaw and soften up.  With a stand mixer, cream butter, sugars, salt, and vanilla together.  Add cream cheese and beat until well-incorporated.  Add mashed pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and flour.  Continue beating until well-blended, scraping down sides of bowl and beater as needed.  Pour mixture into an air-tight container and place in refrigerator to chill. (Can be made up to 3 days in advance.)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray the individual wells of two muffin trays with cooking spray.  Lay puff pastry sheets out on parchment paper laid out on a flat surface.

Take a pizza cutter or knife and divide sheet into 4 even squares.  

Take each square and place into muffin cups. Corners hanging out are OK.  

Liberally sprinkle pumpkin pie spice over puff pastry dough.  Take cheesecake mixture out of the fridge, and using a small scoop (½ oz), drop a generous scoopful into each well.  When finished, sprinkle decorative sugar over the edges of each pastry.

Stick muffin trays into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are puffed up and are golden brown. Remove from oven. (Cheese centers will puff up during baking, but then completely collapse once removed from the heat, just FYI.)

When completely cooled, remove puffs from muffin tins and generously sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve.  Can be stored overnight without refrigeration for one night.

Makes 1 dozen cups.


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