Sunday, October 25, 2009

Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Fall is definitely here in Texas and while it may not be the glorious autumnal display that New England is famous for, it's still just as wonderful if only for the cooler temperatures! Autumn becomes my busiest baking season what with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and numerous birthdays happening and one of my favorites to bake is pumpkin cheesecake. The first time I made this, I decided to take it to my husband's grandparents' house for Thanksgiving. It was my first time to spend a holiday with his extended relations, so I probably should have been a bit less daring than to bring a never-tried-before dessert for such a large audience. Ah well, I've never been one to do things properly, tactfully, or quietly...well-behaved women don't make history! My husband's uncle had this to say about the dessert when I asked him about it: "Well, it doesn't suck!" His comment left me open mouthed and horrified until my husband explained that it was a quote from the movie Arthur, which is a favorite in the family and Uncle Pat using it meant that he really liked it.

Silly quotes aside, the dessert went over really well and has quickly become an annual request for numerous occasions, one of which being my mother in law's birthday (see? the way to man's heart is through a stomach...if not his, then his mother's). So without further ado, here is the recipe for pumpkin cheesecake that "doesn't suck!"

Pumpkin Cheesecake
For the crust:
1 cup crushed cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup ground pecans (or almonds or more graham crackers if you have a nut allergy)
1 stick of butter, melted

For the filling:
3 - 8 oz bricks of cream cheese, room temp
1 cup of sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 cup canned pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 350F and pull out your springform pan. You will want a 9-10" spring form or a very deep tart pan with removable bottom (of which I am still searching for one, so spring form will be easiest to get and use!)
2. Mix the graham cracker crumbs and ground pecans together in a small bowl.
3. Pour in the melted butter, and using a fork, mix it together until it forms a crumbly mixture and every morsel is coated with the butter.
4. With clean hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan going up the sides about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way. Place the springform into the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, place the cream cheese and sugar into your mixer and cream for about a minute or so.
6. Add in the eggs and vanilla and continue to mix until it is yogurt like consistency.
7. Add in the spices and the pumpkin, and mix until just incorporated.
8. Once the crust has finished pre-baking in the oven, pull it out and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Pour the filling into the crust and then return to the oven for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.

You may have heard about using a water bath when cooking cheesecakes to prevent cracking. To be honest, I've used a water bath, a separate pan of water, cooking low and slow and a variety of other methods and none of them have really prevented cracking. If you want to give it a try, be my guest, but it's just more work and inevitably, the cheesecake always seems to settle and no one ever notices to cracking. Not only that, but you can always hide it with spiced whipped cream, which just so happens to be the perfect complement to the cheesecake!

Spiced Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla (or bourbon or other liquor of your choice)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. Whip all of the ingredients listed above with a mixer until it forms stiff peaks. You can add more or less sugar as you desire; you can also add liquors or other extracts if you choose.

Some food for thought...

  • If you're watching your weight and need to cut back on the fat and cholesterol, you can substitute neufchatel for the cream cheese which is lower in fat and tastes identical to regular cream cheese. 
  • You can also reduce the amount of butter in the crust (don't do less than 5 TBSP) and change up the eggs to three egg whites and 1 egg yolk to cut down on the fat and cholesterol there. 
  • The graham crackers can be regular or fat free which will also help. I do not use artificial sugar substitutes in any of my baking, so if you need to cut back on that a little, you could probably go to 3/4 cup and still be OK.

Happy Baking!

1 comment:

  1. Now if only you had the recipe for writing interesting blogs.


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