Earlier this fall when there were rumors of a canned pumpkin shortage, I was thrilled to find quite a few cans at our local warehouse club. Of course, I stocked up so I could do plenty of baking even if I wasn't able to find canned pumpkin the rest of the season (a fear that never materialized). There's only one problem: like everything else sold at warehouse clubs, the cans of pumpkin are jumbo-sized. In other words, a single can of pumpkin lasts for 3 or 4 recipes (even more lately the way I've been scaling back all of the recipes I make). It would be easy to freeze the leftover pumpkin, but fitting things in our freezer is already like playing a game of Tetris so I try to avoid it whenever possible. Instead, the pumpkin goes into a resealable bag in the fridge and I bake pumpkin goodies like crazy until I use it all up. I have no idea how long I can safely use pumpkin I store in the fridge but I've been trying to work through it within a week and haven't had any issues.
I opened a new can of pumpkin to make the caramel pumpkin pie last week, and shortly afterward started scouring my cookbooks and the internet for new recipes to use the leftover. These cheesecakes are one of the desserts which that pumpkin wound up in. They're really quick and easy, and perfect for sharing since they're individually portioned. I found I had to swirl quite a bit to achieve a marbled look because the pumpkin batter is heavier than the plain, but these really do look wonderfully festive with the orange and white colors. This recipe doesn't include a crust and I don't know that they need one, but if you are so inclined it would be easy to make a graham cracker crust and press it in before adding the cheesecake batter on top (here's one I've used in the past).
One last note - I received quite a few comments/questions about the mini pie dish I used for my apple pie yesterday. I picked it up last fall at Crate & Barrel when they had the seasonal bakeware out. I haven't been into the store lately but I checked the website and it looks like they have the same dish in an orange/brown pumpkin color this year (find it here) for those who are interested.
Pumpkin Swirl Mini Cheesecakes
adapted from Fine Cooking
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
2 1/4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until very smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the sugar, vanilla, and salt, and continue beating until the mixture is smooth (make sure it is free of all lumps), about 1 minute. Finally, add the eggs to the bowl, one at a time. Beat only until everything is just blended (overbeating at this stage may cause the cheesecakes to crack during baking).
Transfer 2/3 cup of the batter to a small bowl. Use a rubber spatula to mix in the pumpkin, flour and spices until completely blended.
Use a small cookie scoop to divide the plain batter among the prepared muffin cups (about 2- 2 1/2 tablespoons per cup). Then use the scoop to add a dollop of the pumpkin batter to each cup (about 1-1 1/2 tablespoons per cup). Use a toothpick or small knife to swirl the two batters together to create a marbled look.
Bake for about 17-20 minutes, or until the centers of the cheesecakes are just set. Let the cheesecakes cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Once they reach room temperature, cover them and set the pan in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (or up to 3 days) before serving.