Friday, October 21, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Mini Pumpkin Pleasecakes (Cheesecake)

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 I haven't been sleeping all the great lately. It's not really anything to be concerned about. There is no real mystery as to why. I've been sabotaging myself by doing all kinds of things I shouldn't. I mean what do I expect if I watch American Horror Story right before I go to bed?

The other night I woke up in the middle of the night because the cats were bickering in the kitchen and my first thought in my slightly unconscious mind was "They must have cornered that troll* from the 1985 feature film adaptation of Stephen King's Cat's Eye." I mean obviously. Because that's what happens to your brain when you overdose on monster movies. AMC's Fearfest has had me in it's clutches for weeks now. I skip anything with any real gore and focus more on the classics like Teenage Zombies.

Between the leaves changing color and the black and white movies, it just felt like it was time to add a vegan classic to our little blog. Vegan pumpkin cheesecake is actually one of the first recipes I ever tried out on non-vegans back in my Olympia days when I worked at a domestic violence shelter as a sexual assault counselor. This recipe has evolved a lot since that first Thanksgiving cheesecake I brought for the families and residents in the shelter. That while I have fond memories of it, I am willing to admit was a pale shadow of this recipe. It's a much firmer and creamier pie. I've learned how to have a more logical head around pumpkin. I mean it's a fall tradition I respect but over the years my maturity has brought an understanding that sometimes you don't have to use the whole can**. I also have to admit the New Yorky style of this version's sweet almost cookie-ish crust makes it my favorite but you can also put this filling in a regular old pie crust and not sweat the spring-form pan. Either way, pumpkin cheesecake is awesome.

Photo of a Sample Pie using this filling in a regular crust.

Pumpkin Pleasecakes (We made ours mini by using 4 - 4.5 inch spring-form pans but you can also just make one cheesecake by using a 9 inch spring-form pan. If you are making the large cheesecake, you'll want to check out the baking instructions in our original New York Cheesecake recipe. If you are looking for mini spring form pans - I found ours at Target.)

  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Margarine 
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Applesauce

Pumpkin Filling
  • 3 Packages Vegan Cream Cheese
  • 1 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Orange Peel (grated)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ginger
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Applesauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Ener G Egg Replacer (just the powder not made per instructions on the package) 
  • 3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • Vegetable Shortening to grease your pans

Vegan Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting Topping (We're recreating the whipped cream topping that you find on some New York Style Cheesecakes so this frosting is much softer than traditional frosting.)
  • 1/2 Package of Vegan Cream Cheese (plain)
  • 1/8 Cup Margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Almond Milk (vanilla)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

Heat oven to 400.

Lightly grease your 4 mini spring-form pans with Vegetable Shortening.

In a bowl, mix the Crust Ingredients with a fork until dough forms; gather into a ball. Separate into 4 equal sized portions. One at time, press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of a spring-form pan. Then use the remaining 1/3 of the dough portion up the sides of the pan to create a shallow cup. Once you've done that for all the spring-form pans, place all your spring-form pans on a cookie sheet. Bake for 3-5 minutes or until light golden brown than remove them and let them cool while you make the filling.

Heat oven to 475.

See it kinda puffs up when to bake it.
In a bowl, mix all the Filling ingredients (please note the Vegetable Shortening is only for greasing the pan - don't add any) on a low speed until well blended. Using a ladle to fill your pans a little more than 3/4 of the way to the top. Don't fill to the brim because your cakes will bake over.

Bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 200. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Cheesecake may not appear done, but if a small area in the center seems soft it will become solid when it cools. Don't do the toothpick/bamboo skewer test. Turn off oven, leave Cheesecake in the oven 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven and cool in their spring-form pans on a wire rack. Without releasing or removing side of the pans, run a small metal spatula or a butter knife carefully along the side of the Cheesecake to loosen.

In a mixing bowl, beat all the frosting ingredients except Powdered Sugar with an electric mixer on low until smooth. Gradually mix in the Powdered Sugar, 1/2 cup at a time on a low speed to prevent one of those messy blow backs. Mix till smooth. This is really soft frosting so I recommend using a frosting gun to make an even layer over the top of the cheesecake while it is still in the pan.

Refrigerate uncovered for at least 7 hours.

Run metal spatula or butter knife carefully around the side of the Cheesecake to loosen again. Remove the side of the spring-form pan. You can leave your cute little pleasecakes on the bottom disk when you serve them. It will help prevent anything crazy from happening in transport***.

* Yes, I know that the troll story in Cat's Eye was actually written by Stephen King for the screenplay and doesn't appear in the collection of short stories titled Night Shift with the other scenes but still since 2/3 of the movie is adapted, I tried not to think about it too much. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

** And of course there was the ex-girlfriend incident that created an illogical anti-pumpkin sentiment that I am just now coming to terms with.



  1. Holy pumpkin pie batman!! That looks freaking AMAZING!!!

  2. I just laughed so hard from this! I do the same thing. I will be watching "My Haunted Story" at 10pm and then sleep with one eye opened for the rest of the night. But these shows are too interesting! It's hard NOT to watch. I have heard about this "American Horror Story" show a lot--I'm thinking I should join you with the more sleepless nights :) P.S. That pleasecake looks sooooo good!

  3. Oh my goodness -- this recipe sounds amazing! I am definitely bookmarking this site!!

  4. Cara - Another one that I should avoid before bedtime is Criminal Minds. My friend was staying with us awhile ago and we watched like 2 episodes at like midnight and I was jumpy for like month. No good. No good at all. It's the curse of an imagination.

    I'm so glad you all like the cheesecakes! I've been enjoying sample pies for like a week now and I still love them madly.

  5. absolutely amazing! I am drooling right now!!!

  6. question - did you make your cheesecakes with no crust? i don't like pie crust so i'd rather do without. and your photo's make your cheesecake look this true?

  7. They're NY style so there is a crust along the bottom and then we used a spring-form pan to form the sides.

    When we were testing out the filling we tried it out in some vegan pre-made crusts and it worked.

    But I recommend getting one of those spring form pans. NY style cheesecakes are the best!

  8. This looks lovely. Has anyone tried making cupcakes out of these?