Mini Pecan Praline Cheesecakes

Ultra-creamy mini cheesecakes with a pecan cookie crust, swirled with caramelized pecan praline and topped with a white chocolate praline glaze. If you are a pecan lover you will love this cheesecake recipe!

Mini Pecan Praline Cheesecakes

For Praline Paste:
  1. 1 cup granulated sugar
  2. 2 tablespoons filtered water
  3. 1 teaspoon corn syrup
  4. 2 cups (8 ounces) pecan halves or pieces

For Crust:
  1. 4 ounces vanilla wafer cookies
  2. 1/4 cup (1 ounce) pecan halves or pieces
  3. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For Cheesecake Filling:
  1. 8 ounces full fat cream cheese, at room temperature*
  2. 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  4. 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1 large egg, at room temperature*
  8. 3 tablespoons (2 1/4 ounces) praline paste
  9. For Topping:
  10. 3 ounces good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
  11. 3 tablespoons (2 1/4 ounces) praline paste
  12. 10 candied pecan halves, for garnish

To make praline paste
  • first spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  • Pour water and cornsyrup into a small, heavyweight saucepan set over medium heat. Add sugar and gently stir with a spoon until sugar is completely dissolved (try not to splash any sugar crystals up on the sides of the pan if you can). Brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush and water to remove any stray sugar crystals.
  • Once sugar is dissolved and begins to boil, stop stirring. Continue to let the sugar boil until it becomes rich amber in color. You can gently swirl the pan if necessary to ensure the sugar caramelizes evenly, just don’t stir it after it starts bubbling.
  • Immediately (and carefully!) pour hot caramelized sugar over top of pecans on baking sheet. Let cool completely, at least 1 hour.
  • Break up caramelized nuts into large pieces. Place in a zip top bag. Wrap with a kitchen towel and bang it a few times with a rolling pin or meat pounder until broken up into chunks.
  • Transfer broken up pieces to a high-powered blender or food processor. Start on reasonably low speed and work your way up, until the caramelized nuts transform into a smooth butter. This might take a while, just be patient with it. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed to ensure everything is mixed smoothly. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Praline paste will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crusts 
  • grind up cookies and pecans in a food processor until finely ground. Drizzle in butter and pulse until evenly moistened. Press into muffin tins lined with paper cupcake liners. You’ll want about 1 tablespoon of crumbs for each standard-sized muffin cup. Use a flat-bottomed juice glass or tart tamper to press the crumbs firmly in an even layer.
  • Bake crusts for 4 to 6 minutes or until set and edges are barely starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely while you prepare the filling.

For cheesecake filling 
  • combine softened cream cheese, brown sugar, cream, flour, vanilla and salt in a food processor or stand mixer. Mix until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add egg and whisk by hand until completely incorporated.
  • Spoon out 1/4 cup of batter into a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons praline paste and stir until smooth. You’ll use this to make the swirl filling.
  • Fill each muffin cup with about 3 tablespoons of batter, filling no more than 2/3 full. You should have enough for about 10 cups. Reserve a little bit of the plain batter for the swirl.
  • Drop a few dollops of praline batter onto top of each cheesecake, then another dollop or so of plain batter. Use a toothpick in a figure-8 pattern to gently swirl the two colors together.
  • Bake cheesecakes for 15 to 17 minutes or until edges are set and center still jiggles ever so slightly. Turn off the oven and crack the oven door; let cheesecakes cool in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely. (At this point cheesecakes can be glazed or also refrigerated overnight if desired).