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Crustless Pumpkin Cheesecake (with Sugar-free Salted Caramel Pecan Topping)

I know, ok? I know. I posted this recipe on Facebook like a week ago and folks have been patiently waiting for me to post the recipe.

As it usually happens, by the time I get around to figuring out a share-able recipe, very few people care anymore! But for accountability’s sake, here we go.

This recipe was a bit tricky because it came about by accident. I was making a sugar-free pumpkin pie and I made the mistake of using the recipe on the can of pumpkin which yielded WAY too much pie filling for one pie shell. Not wanting to throw the rest of the filling away, I played with my food and came up with a very yummy (but small and thin) crustless cheesecake. Here it is:

But those who have made cheesecake before know the methodology is a bit different from a pumpkin pie and so I wasn’t sure how this recipe went without me having first mixed up too much pie filling! That was my objective: to find out.

And I have!

I made a few noticeable changes to this recipe in its final format. Firstly, it’s a full-size cheesecake. Secondly, as such I baked it in a springform pan. You can still use a baking pan if you want, just make sure to refrigerate it a few hours before cutting it and use a pie knife to lift the pieces if you go completely crustless. OR you can try one of these delicious nut crusts I keep hearing about. If you have a good recipe, post it in the comments so your fellow Foodies can share in the love!

Nik’s Crustless Pumpkin Cheesecake


Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. low-fat cream cheese (NOT fat-free), softened
  • 6 oz. unflavored Greek yogurt (yes you still need this even if you use the cream cheese made with Greek yogurt)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling!)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c. Splenda (or your favorite sweetener’s equivalent of 3/4 c. sugar) NOTE: If everything tastes too sweet to you, go with the lower amount. If you are serving this to a lot of non-ops go with the higher amount!
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • Optional: 2 servings (whatever that is on the canister) of either vanilla or unflavored protein
Directions:
Arrange your oven racks so there is a rack at the bottom and one in the middle. Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees and put a large pot or full kettle of water on to boil.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and Greek yogurt. Beat on medium with a hand mixer until they are thoroughly combined.
Add in pumpkin, sweetener, protein (if using), pie spice and vanilla and blend again until thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, beat your egg whites until they form soft peaks (about 3-4 minutes on medium).

GENTLY, tip your egg whites into the cream cheese mixture and use a scraper or a long wooden spoon to gently fold the egg whites into the mixture (folding is gently turning the batter over on itself over and over again). NOTE: It may take a few minutes to get it all combined. Do not rush and do not use the hand mixer!

If you’re using a baking pan, spray it down with non-stick cooking spray. If you’re using a springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper (you can also just spray it down, but parchment paper makes it easier to remove the cake from the pan later). Scrape the batter out of the bowl and then spread it evenly.

In the bottom rack of your oven, set a large baking dish and then fill it with the boiling water. In the center oven rack, set your baking dish.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until the cheesecake seems mostly set (it will start to pull away from the sides of the baking dish and will appear firm). Turn off the oven, prop the oven door open and allow the cheesecake to stay in there while the oven cools down, usually about 20 – 25 minutes. This is what it looks like at the point when you turn off the oven. As you can see it retains the little swirls from me spreading it in the pan. If you are a perfectionist…well…make sure you spread the top flat! You’ll notice some cracking. That happens. I am not a master baker so my cheesecakes almost always crack a little. Usually small cracks are a good indication it’s time for the oven to go off.

When the oven is cooled remove the cheesecake to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly before covering and refrigerating. I get the best results when I refrigerate overnight, but I think 2-3 hours would do the trick.

If you used a springform pan, run a sharp knife around the perimenter of the cheesecake before releasing the springform.
UPDATE:

So here’s what had happened. After I shut down the computer and was all set to lie down while the cheesecake cooled down I realized it wasn’t as set as I thought so I turned the oven back to let it cook a few more minutes…then promptly fell asleep!

Thankfully my little nap only lasted 20 minutes (I had intended to only let the cake go about 7 more minutes) but it was just enough time to…produce really HUGE cracks!

So how did I get to the thing of beauty at the beginning of this post? Well my motto is, “If life gives you a cracked cheesecake, make a topping!” For this one the topping is super-simple, with only four ingredients!
Nik’s Sugar-Free Salted Caramel Pecan Topping

Before I give you this recipe I need to stress this is holiday or party food. Unless you have big family dinners regularly or just have a gargantuan sized family, don’t be making this all the time, k?
Ingredients:
  • 2 c. chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp. butter (or whatever you use in place of butter)
  • 1/2 c. Smucker’s sugar-free caramel sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt
Directions:
Set a pan over medium flame with no non-stick, no nothing and let it get HOT!
Add the pecans and toast them, stirring often, until you can just begin to smell them. Transfer to a bowl.
In that same pan, melt your butter. Add your caramel sauce. Almost instantly the caramel sauce is going to change from a lighter tan to a darker brown. That is good and right and normal.
Add the salt and stir until it begins to boil and bubble. Make sure the sauce, butter and salt are all mixed together before pouring into your bowl of pecans. Then stir the mixture thoroughly. Here’s my batch.

Allow the mixture to cool for about 3 minutes (you want it cooler but not completely cooled) before setting it atop your cheesecake. From there I DARE anyone to notice the cracks!

Crustless Pumpkin Cheesecake (with Sugar-free Salted Caramel Pecan Topping)
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    Crustless Pumpkin Cheesecake (with Sugar-free Salted Caramel Pecan Topping)
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      7 comments

      1. I know it's late but I just pulled mines out of the oven to cool and I have big cracks in it. I followed the directions so I'm not sure what I messed up. Any tips for next time?

      2. Not really. Neat every cheesecake I've made has cracked on some level. Try dropping the oven temp to 325 next time (same cook time). Maybe more water in the pan or set the cake pan directly in your water. Honestly the few times I've gotten absolutely no cracks I think it was dumb luck.

        • My pie did not set should I use eggs instead of egg whites

          • Hi there. Egg whites should not make a difference in the cheesecake setting up. Did you change anything else about the recipe? If it’s still completely custard, it may just need additional baking time as oven temperatures can vary!

            • Ok So I cooked it for 40 minutes and cooled for 20 minutes put caramel pecan topping on and left it in refrigerator overnight. However it was left at. Room temp for about 4 hrs and still it was soft not set??

              • Hi Monica,

                I’m really sorry the recipe didn’t work out for you. I’ve made it a bunch of times and it’s worked for me so I’m not quite sure what to tell you went wrong! The only thing I can think is that oven times sometimes vary. The egg whites should have caused the custard to set up (the only thing the omission of the yolks would do is make it less creamy because of the reduced amount of fat). Did you change any of the other ingredients or amounts? Too much liquid vs. protein could cause a custard not to set up. But if you used the ingredients in the recipe (and especially if you used protein powder) it should have set up, so I’m stumped!

                Again, I am sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you but I admire you for giving it a try! For Thanksgiving or other important holidays, I always recommend doing a “test run” for recipes so that you know how you need to tweak it for the big day. I’ll consult some of my fellow cheesecake “experts” and see if they know what might have gone wrong just in case you’d like to try again.

      3. Here is a Pecan Pie Crust that I use…before and after WLS (also gluten free)

        1 large egg white
        1 2/3 cups ground pecans
        2 Tbls. Dark Brown Sugar (I use the Splenda Brand Brown Sugar)
        1 tsp. ground cinnamon
        1 tsp. pumpkin spice
        1/2 tsp. ground ginger
        1/8 tsp. ground cloves

        Preheat oven to 350
        In a bowl mix the egg white till it is frothy
        In another bowl mix together the remaining ingredients till blended well
        With a spatula, fold in the beaten egg white
        Transfer to a pie pan and press out till distributed evenly
        Bake for 10 minutes until egg whites or until egg whites are set
        If you have a no-bake pie simply put the filling into the crust and place in fridge till it is set.
        If you have a filling that needs to be baked simply put the filling into the pie crust and bake according to the directions for pie.

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