Spicy Pumpkin Cheesecake Shooters

If you’re like me, you might have a few extra cans of pumpkin puree lying around this week.

I decided to make a quick dessert out of one such can and blend the pumpkin puree with mascarpone cheese and instant cheesecake pudding, on a bed of ginger snaps to create a creamy, little shooter brimming with fall flavors.  I was inspired to cook up these shooters in my kitchen by a tasty dessert experience I had in October, which you can read about here.

Spicy Pumpkin Cheesecake Shooters
Makes about 8 shooters, depending on the size of the glass and the portions you choose.

♦  20 ginger snap cookies, finely crushed
♦  1 can of pumpkin puree (15-oz.)
♦  1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
♦  1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
♦  sprinkling of ground ginger
♦  1-2 pinches of ground cloves
♦  1 heaping spoonful of mascarpone cheese (If you have never tasted mascarpone cheese, it is an Italian cheese similar to cream cheese)
♦  1 package of cheesecake-flavored instant pudding, prepared according to package directions
Optional:  generous drizzle of dark corn syrup, or to taste

fresh whipped cream or mascarpone cheese (you can add a bit of sugar if you like)
sprinkling of ground nutmeg

Prepare the pudding according to the package directions.  For me, this meant combining the pudding with 2 cups of skim milk and whipping it together for a few minutes.

Next, crush the ginger snap cookies.  My preferred method is a meat mallet and a plastic bag, but you could use a food processor instead.

I just love ginger snaps, but you could also use cinnamon graham crackers or any of the variations listed at the end of this post.

All crushed up.

Add the spices to the pumpkin puree and whip in the mascarpone cheese with an electric mixer until the filling is combined.  It helps the consistency of the filling if the heaping spoonful of mascarpone cheese is at room temperature prior to mixing.

Here are all the spices. Delicious.

A nice, heaping spoonful should do it!

Mix in the mascarpone cheese and spices to enhance the flavor of the pumpkin puree.

Just like the Thanksgiving holidays, this pumpkin puree is all gone.

Then add in the cheesecake pudding, blending the pumpkin mixture until the filling is smooth, orange, and gently spiced.

Mix the pudding into the filling.

At this point, I drizzled in some dark corn syrup to cut the cheesy flavor and add additional sweetness, but this step is really just a matter of taste.

A little corn syrup for sweetness...

The filling is blended smooth and ready to chill.

Next, put the filling in the fridge and allow it to chill for one hour.

Then it is time to assemble!  Begin filling the shooters with a layer of crushed ginger snaps.

This is where the dessert begins to take shape...

Top this crumb layer with the pumpkin filling.  You can alternate the layers as much as you like.  I think that the original inspiration for this dessert had melted butter mixed in with the ginger snap crumbs like a pie crust.  Feel free to add butter if you want.

I put the filling in a plastic food storage bag to pipe it into the shooters, but I'm warning you, it can be a messy process! Trial and error is a must!

I finished the shooters with a dollop of sweetened mascarpone cheese and a sprinkling of ground nutmeg.  A bit of whipped cream and ground cinnamon would be equally delicious!

Serve with small demitasse or tasting spoons.

♦  Variations:  Instead of ginger snaps, use frosted gingerbread cookies, pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread crumbled up, or amaretti cookies!