Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bites with Salted Caramel Sauce

I am always on the lookout for new and unique treats to make.  The criteria generally requires that the new tasty treat is a combination or reinvention of an already tried-and-true classic.  These little bites fit the bill perfectly–pumpkin meets cheesecake meets salted caramel.  Hold on to your hats, friends, they are absolutely incredible.   
What is there not to love about pumpkin, cheesecake, graham crackers, and gooey salted caramel?  I particularly love these bites because they are so small.  Each bite ensures an equitable distribution of all flavors.  The graham cracker crust is perfectly crunchy, not hard or flaky.  The pumpkin cheesecake filling is light and fluffy while also highlighted with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and some ginger.  
And the salted caramel sauce…..the salted caramel sauce…..yum.  It is by far the best caramel sauce I have ever had.  I thought there would be no way it would turn out perfectly gooey, buttery, slightly salty, and overwhelmingly delicious, but sure enough, it did!  Also, it was easy to make!!
If you want to impress your friends or coworkers, these pumpkin pie cheesecake bites will certainly do the trick.  They would also be great to bring to a Superbowl party.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bites:
Adapted from one of my new favorite blogs, Cookign Classy.  I think this woman and I have the same sweet tooth and taste buds.

For the Bites…

  • 1 3/4 cup of finely crushed graham crackers (you can buy them pre-crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 3 packages of cream cheese (8 ounces each), softened well
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream 

For the Salted Caramel Sauce…

  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of water
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling

To Make the Bites…

  1. Preheat your to 325 degrees.  Line a mini-cupcake tin with liners.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together crushed graham crackers with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. 
  3. Pour in the melted butter and stir mixture until evenly coated. 
  4. Use a tablespoon to divide the graham cracker mixture evenly among the lined cupcake wells.  I had enough to do one and a half batches.  Firmly press the graham cracker mixture into an even layer. 
  5. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing filling.
  6. In another medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger until no clumps of sugar remain. 
  7. Add the softened cream cheese to the bowl for your stand mixture.  Then add the sugar/spice mixture to the cream cheese.  
  8. Mix on low to blend everything together until smooth, about 30 seconds. 
  9. Mix in the eggs one at a time. 
  10. Next, blend in pumpkin and vanilla, then mix in heavy cream. 
  11. Tap bowl forcefully against your counter top to release some of the excess air bubbles.
  12. Scoop the filling mixture into a large ziploc bag.  Seal the bag, then snip off one of the corners to make a pastry bag of sorts.  (This will make your life easier and less messy, trust me.)  
  13. Fill each of the liners most of the way full–I left about half a centimeter. 
  14. Bake in preheated oven until nearly set (no longer very giggly), about 20 – 25 minutes. 
  15. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack at room temperature. Then transfer to refrigerator and chill until completely set. 
  16. Top with caramel sauce and a pinch of sea salt just before serving. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

 To Make the Salted Caramel Sauce…

  1. Gather all of your ingredients and have them ready to add quickly. 
  2. In a large non-stick skillet or sauce pan, heat the sugar and water over moderately high heat whisking constantly.
  3. Once the mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow the mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color.  Give it a final whisk or two.  
  4. Once the mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add the butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. 
  5. Wait 3 seconds then carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). 
  6. Whisk until the mixture is smooth, which could take a couple of minutes. 
  7. Allow the caramel to cool several minutes then pour into a ziploc bag.  Snip off the tip and squeeze enough caramel onto the prepared cupcakes to cover them. 
  8. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  9. Savor the goodness!!!

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