Tuesday, 14 October 2014

3 Thanksgiving Desserts: Pumpkin Cheesescake

Oops! I got so carried away with the Thanksgiving family dinner yesterday, I forgot to take a picture of the cheesecake after it was cut and plated! It was requested for our family get together, and the whole thing was eaten, even my 2 year old nephew loving it. And what's not to love? Creamy, rich and slightly spicy, this cheesecake is always a hit!

Start off with the crust...

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients:

1 3/4 cups graham crumbs
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Add 1/2 cup melted butter and mix well to combine.

Press the crust evenly on the bottom of a 9" springform pan.

Bake at 350F until it is set, and slightly golden around the edges, about 10 - 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Now to make the filling...

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place:

1 lb brick cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup of sugar

Mix well with the paddle, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often, until it is completely smooth, creamy and lump free.

If there are any lumps left, they won't be eliminated after you start adding the rest of the ingredients.

Add 3 eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl down in between additions.

Mix in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

 Time to add in the pumpkin. You will need:

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree

Along with:

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
4 teaspoons of flour

Mix well, until combined, then add in 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of sour cream. When this has been mixed in, the filling is ready to be poured onto the baked crust.

First, wrap the outside of the springform pan tightly with foil. As the cheesecake is baked in a water bath to keep it moist and creamy, and to promote even cooking and prevent cracking, the foil will help prevent the water from seeping into the pan and making the crust soggy.

Place the foil wrapped pan into a larger roasting pan and add enough water to come about 1" up the sides of the pan.

Pour the cheesecake batter onto the crust.

Bake at 350F for about 45 - 50 minutes, or until the filling is set. Test by gently tapping the pan. The filling should not be jiggly. When it is set, turn the oven off and prop the door open with a wooden spoon handle. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for about 15 minutes. This allows it to cool down slowly.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Remove the springform pan from the water, and remove the foil from around the outside.

Immediately run the tip of a hot knife around the very top edge of the cheesecake. This allows it to shrink in naturally as it cools, and prevents cracking.

Cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge overnight before removing from the pan.

  • I served the cheesecake with rum and maple syrup whipped cream.
  • As for the Pumpkin Streusel Tart  do not attempt to use the Hallowe'en carving pumpkins if you choose to roast your own instead of using canned. They are too watery, you want to look for baking or sugar pumpkins, which are smaller and have a denser flesh.
  • Baked and mashed sweet potato also makes a great cheesecake.
  • If you want to make squares, line a 9" square pan with foil or parchment paper. Press the crust onto the bottom, bake, and then top with the filling and bake. The foil or parchment paper will help to remove the squares from the pan for easier cutting.
  • Try different spices...ground star anise or cloves (use sparingly, both can be overpowering), orange zest or a little bit of ground aniseed.
  • The cheesecake can be made ahead, well wrapped and frozen.
  • The crust and the filling can be made a day ahead, and then just put together and baked when you are ready.
  • Gingersnaps ground up in the food processor make a good alternative to graham crumbs for the crust.
  • Grind up 1/2 cup of nuts as a substitute for part of the graham crumbs for a nutty crust. Pecans work especially well with pumpkin.

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