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October 9th, 2004, 10:36 PM
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These baby Italian style pumpkin cheesecakes are to die for. Well not really, especially since they are low fat and luscious. They use a variety of low fat or fat free products to achieve a light but satisfying flavor. You can use whole milk ingredients and real eggs, but the difference is not worth the savings in fat and calories. I achieved better results using my homemade pumpkin puree, but you can use canned solid pack pumpkin (not pumkin pie filling) with pretty good results.

12 gingersnap cookies
2 1/2 cups low fat ricotta cheese
1 cup pumpkin puree***)Homemade Recipe Below
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
equivalent of two eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins and place a gingernsnap in the base of each tin. Beat the ricotta cheese until smooth then add the pumpkin puree and brown sugar. Mix until smooth. Beat in the remaining ingredients until light and fluffy. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, turn off the oven, and let the cheesecakes sit undisturbed for one hour. Do not peek or open the oven door during or after baking. Let the cheesecakes cool to room temperature. Chill for at least four hours or overnight. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

***Pumpkin Puree***

1 three pound pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds and threads. Reserve the seeds for toasting and snacking. Place the halved cut side down on a greased jelly roll pan. Bake the pumpkin until it is very tender and can easily be pierced with a fork. A 3 pound pumpkin takes 1 hour, so vary your time estimates based on that. Set the pumpkin aside to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, cut the skin off with a sharp knife. Chop the flesh into pieces small enough to fit in a food processor and process until pureed. Leftover puree can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen.
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