Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Maple Bourbon Praline Sauce


My family and I are avid travellers - right down to my three-year-old. 

This past week, we hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and a cardi....wait. Strike that. I accidentally left my cardigan on the plane, so I technically didn't have it when I hopped off. I was super annoyed too because it was a favourite of mine. It's that perfect sweater for that weird weather; not too heavy, not too light. 

Anyway, we went to LA for several days last week. I'd never been, so I was pretty stoked to finally see what all the hoopla was about. As promised, it was uh-mazing. It was everything I thought it was going to be, but nothing like it.

However, the journey there was a different story. 

I love airplanes. In fact, I am constantly fascinated by them. I would be perfectly happy sitting at the airport, watching them land and take off all. day. long. However, I will NEVER fully understand how something that large and that heavy can fly and keep afloat - it's mind boggling. Seriously. Me + mind = Poof. You can explain to me all the live long day about the aerodynamics, physics behind it, as well as the logistics of its workings and I will still never understand, so don't even try. 

In saying all this, I'm actually a VERY nervous flier. I loved, loved, loved to fly up until about seven years ago. I would count down the weeks until I was to jet set to another destination. I don't know what happened, but one day, my husband and I were just about to board a flight home from Atlanta when I protested that I could not get on the flight. I burst into tears, begging him to drive me home (home being like 21 driving hours away). I was a mess. I bit my nails to the quick, shred about 10,000 tissues, I was red and blotchy with hives, and cried myself sick all the way home. It was awful. Turns out, about a week later, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. My doctor told me it was my motherly instinct kicking in. I don't know if that's true or not, but it made me feel better as to why I threw a temper tantrum. Ever since, I've been gun-shy about flying. I have to take a pill and stick my head in a vat of calming aromatherapy oils every time I step foot onto one. Mind you, this does not stop me from watching Mayday or horrific airline stories, scaring the hocus pocus out of me. 

ANYWAY...

My defence mechanism to help counteract my nerves, along with my medicinal remedies, is to request seats in the back of the plane and to talk with the flight attendants. I don't know why, but this helps me tremendously. I like to ask questions, just to make sure everything is copasetic. 99.9% of the time, they're quite sweet and very accommodating, answering anything I throw at them. 

However, this particular flight with this particular flight attendant, I wasn't getting a good vibe the moment we got to our seats. She was quite aloof, which is strange for someone that is going to be attending the needs of like, 200 people. 

As I started firing off my usual questions of, "Are you originally from Toronto?" or "Have you been to Los Angeles before?", she was barely answering me, which actually made me more nervous. I don't know why, but it did. Finally, my husband piped up and says, 

"My wife is a bit of a nervous flyer. She likes to feel out the situation."

Her response? And I quote:

"Oh, well then you would NOT (she expressed this word quite emphatically) have liked flying into Pearson yesterday. Oh my God, the plane was rocking back and forth. Turbulence was pretty bad much of the flight." 

Great. Thank you. Thank you for not only recognizing I'm freaking out here, but that my husband informed you I'm a nervous flyer and you've just shat insult all over my injury. Well done.

Despite the fact I was annoyed with her, stuck on an airplane for five hours, and that they only had one drink service, complete with bad coffee and zero snacks that entire time (no, I lied. They did have a $10 'protein pack' one could purchase), I won't be filing a complaint to the airline. 

The more I thought about it, the more I decided I was going to chalk it up to the fact that perhaps she was having a bad day herself or something in her life is amiss. It's not fair to put all that pressure on her for my insecurity nor is it fair to judge her, but for crying out loud, it wouldn't kill her to smile a bit more either.

So yes. I'm taking the high road on this one.

And I'm taking these mini cheesecakes with me. 

Wanna come? 



MINI PUMPKIN CHEESECAKES WITH MAPLE BOURBON PRALINE SAUCE

Crust:

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups Speculoos or Biscoff cookies, finely crushed - you can also use gingersnap cookies if you cannot find these specified cookies
4 tablespoons granulated sugar

Filling:

1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 - 8 ounce block cream cheese, softened at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Maple Bourbon Praline Sauce:

1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoon(s) bourbon - add this to your liking
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup chopped pecans

To make maple bourbon praline sauce:

In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium-high heat. Stir lightly only until the water and sugar are incorporated. Allow sugar to come to a boil, swishing the pan occasionally, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes. Color will develop quite quickly, so it's best you stay close to the stove. If sugar crystals form on the sides, use a pastry brush dipped in water to help dissolve. Click here for photo instructions on how to make this sauce. 

Remove from heat and slowly add heavy cream - the cream WILL bubble up, so take care when pouring in to prevent splatters. Whisk in bourbon, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Add butter and whisk until melted. Stir in pecans until completely coated. Allow to
cool.

To make cheesecakes:

Preheat oven to 325°FPrepare a 12-cup muffin tin by spraying with a non-stick coating spray. 

In a small bowl, combine crushed cookies, melted butter, and sugar until well incorporated. Divide crumb mixture into each muffin cup, applying pressure to ensure bottom of each cup is completely covered. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. 





While crust is baking, in another mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese for 5 minutes. Beating at this length will create a creamier texture to the pumpkin mixture. Add in pumpkin and both sugars. Give a good whip around. Add in eggs, one at a time, as well as the vanilla in one of those additions. Beat well until all ingredients are fully incorporated and mixture is creamy. 




Spoon pumpkin mixture into cups evenly, filling almost to the top. They will deflate a bit once their removed from the oven. 



Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. Don't worry if there are cracks on the surface, this will be covered by the praline sauce. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from tin. Run a knife around the edges and carefully pry the cheesecakes from the tin. Place a generous tablespoon of maple bourbon praline sauce on top of cheesecakes and finish off with a dollop of whipped cream. Dust with cinnamon. 

These cheesecakes are delicious both chilled and at room temperature.

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18 Comments »

18 Responses to “Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Maple Bourbon Praline Sauce”

  1. Wow these sound so good! I am making pumpkin pie this week and I can't wait!!

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  2. These cheesecakes looks great! Hope you had a great time in LA!

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    1. Hi Liz! Thanks for stopping by! We had a fabulous time! XO

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  3. Stopping by from Marvelous Monday - had to come check out these gorgeous little cheesecakes. Look fabulous and your photos are great!

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    1. Hi Erin! Thanks for stopping by - and for the love! XO

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  4. This look fantastic! I think certain airlines make me way more nervous than others! I used to do a ton of flying for my job so I learned to like it. I think a few of these cheesecakes would help me cope! Visiting from Marvelous Mondays! - Julianne @ Beyond Frosting

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    1. Thanks Julianne! And I agree - some airlines also make me more nervous than others. I feel smaller airlines go the distance on all levels. When I fly with a bigger carrier, I tend to tense up. It's the craziest thing really. XO

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  5. I HATE flying. Which is funny, because I have pretty much been obsessed with planes since I was a kid. I have always thought they were amazing. I always gaze at airports when driving past them (although, not when I am driving) I watch planes as they fly over my house, I even like looking at planes while at the airport. But actually flying on one, I do not like it. I had to go to Atlanta a couple months ago for work. I live in S FL so it's about an 8 hour drive, a little over an hour for flight. Flew there, nervous, the flight was smooth but I was freaked out about flying home so I rented a car and drove home. Yep. That's how much I hate being on a plane. But I am glad you enjoyed your vacation! :)

    Anyways, I love these little cheesecakes. They are amazing! Pinning and sharing on social media. Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Mondays!

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    1. Thanks Julie! Everything you said describes me to a tee! Are you sure we're not related? XO

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  6. I have to say, you're quite lucky with the flight attendants you've had in the past! This bat sounds like a real trip, but she sounds like most of the ones I've had in the past, too. Very short and curt.. all business and no funny stuff. It's like, I didn't say "bomb" on a plane, I just asked how your day was! Lighten up! (I think they just need a handful of mini cheesecakes... I know I do).

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    1. Oh Hayley, she was intense, that's for sure. I try not to judge, but C'MON! You can at least try to force a smile. It's kind of your job. Grrr……XO

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  7. they are so cute and sound yummy!

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  8. Flying can be such a pain, I avoid it whenever possible. These cheesecakes are adorable and look so delicious! And I love your pictures. Pinning!

    I would love for you to stop by and link up at Wine'd Down Wednesday if you get a chance. We are live now until Friday night. Hope to see you there! http://www.dizzybusyandhungry.com/wined-down-wednesday-link-party-8/

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    1. Hi Kristin! Thanks for the love….and I will certainly check out your link! XO

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  9. I'd like permission to use a photo from one of your previous posts for a personal project (not for sale). How do I get in contact with you?
    Beautiful blog!

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    1. Hi Kristi! You can contact me at thebrunettebaker@hotmail.com.

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