Monday, October 18, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

I have come to the conclusion that I have a problem.

Don't worry! It's not the kind of problem that includes the use of anti-itching cream in odd places or anything like that.

It's more of a personal thing. You know. Like a, "what the heck was God thinking when he made me?" problem.

No offense to you, God. We're still homies.

I guess the problem, more or less, is my attitude in the kitchen. It's like... as soon as I walk into the kitchen, I turn into the Hispanic/American hybrid female version of Ramsey. And instead of having a spatula in my grasp, I have a hand-mixer on high, ready to kick someones butt if they even look at what I'm doing. Isn't that horrible?'

You'd think having such a passionate love for baking and cooking would give me a sense of patience. In reality, I am probably the least patient person in the world. And if someone gets in my way when I'm cooking, or says something like, "are you sure you wanna use that much cinnamon?" while I'm in the middle of making snickerdoodles, then I cannot account for the words that may pass my lips.

Example: This pumpkin cheesecake. It was not easy to make. There were many trials. And I was not alone in making it.

I've made pumpkin cheesecake before. I've made a lot of varieties. When I saw the recipe for Rose Levy's pumpkin cheesecake, I couldn't resist. But at the same time, I saw another recipe that called for ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon in the batter; spices which were lacking in Rose's recipe. I decided to just combine the two and see where it got me. Not only that, but I decided to ask my boyfriend to join me, as he is a huge pumpkin cheesecake fan and I thought it would be fun...

Until he tried to take the cream cheese out of its package with a whisk because he didn't want to get his fingers messy.

It all just went downhill from there.

Now that I think about it, working on something like cheesecake with someone who has never baked something from scratch before may not have been a good idea. And although I was thankful for the time spent together, I won't deny the fact that at one point I wanted to just throw the whole batter out into the sink and call it a day. Gratefully that didn't happen, because regardless of the whole batter being funky issue, the cheesecake still came out perfectly firm, uncracked, and delicious. Although I wasn't a huge fan of it (I'm not a pumpkin cheescake person), the spices did meld together perfectly and I think it made all the difference in the cheesecake. That, and an awesome crust that I pretty much almost ate by the fistful by itself.

But really. This whole impatience with other people in the kitchen thing... am I the only one? I would honestly rather wait 20 minutes for lunch then work with someone else in a small kitchen so we can make our own lunches at the same time. It just doesn't work for me.

Either way, this cheesecake did come out awesome. I didn't have a food processor so the recipe itself didn't work out for me exactly the way I wanted it to. If you do have a food processor, great! Maybe it'll work out for you. But I didn't. So, if you only have a hand mixer, I'm going to include both ways to make this cheesecake with and without a food processor. And if you do happen to make this with someone else less baking savvy, and you have the same kitchen temper I do... let them make the crust.

Trust me.

It might save their life.

(P.S: I do love my boyfriend for helping me out with it, and he is still alive. Just wanted to make that clear before someone calls the police.)

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake w/Gingersnap Pecan Crust
(Tweaked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe)

4 1/2 oz gingersnaps (about 17 2-in. cookies)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
(NOTE: I doubled the crust for mine and it worked out fine)


16oz cream cheese, softened
15oz pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix, preferably Libby's)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream, chilled (NOTE: I had to substitute 2 cups full fat evaporated milk for this since there was no heavy cream left at the store, feel free to do the same if you're watching your budget)

For Garnish:
Whipped Cream
Crumbled Gingersnaps
Caramelized Pecans


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x 2 1/2 -inch or higher springform pan.

To make the crust:
2. In a food processor, process the cookies with the pecans, sugar, salt and cinnamon (if using) until the cookies become fine crumbs, about 20 seconds. Add the melted butter and pulse about 10 times, just until incorporated.

3. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the base of the prepared pan and partway up the sides. Lay plastic wrap over the crumbs to keep them from sticking to your fingers. Be sure to press the bottom thoroughly so that the crumbs are evenly distributed. Wrap the outside of the pan with a double layer of extra-wide heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent water leaking in from the water bath .

To make the filling:
4. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the pumpkin puree and sugar. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook stirring constantly, until the mixture has darkened somewhat, about 5 minutes. Set aside.


5. Scrape the pumpkin mixture into a large food processor and process for 1 minute with the feed tube open (so steam can escape), scraping down the sides. With the motor running add the chilled cream. Add the softened cream cheese and process for 30 seconds or until smoothly incorporated, scraping down the sides two or three times. Add the eggs and yolks and process for about 5 seconds, just until incorporated.


5. Scrape pumpkin mixture into a large mixing bowl with cream cheese. Blend together until completely incorporated and smooth. Add the eggs and yolks until just incorporated. Add chilled heavy cream until smooth, remembering to scrape down the sides.

To bake the cheesecake:
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan in a larger pan (a 12×2-inch cake pan or a roasting pan and surround it with 1 inch of very hot water. Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven without opening the door and let the cheesecake cool for 1 hour.

7. Transfer the cake to a rack (the center will still be jiggly) and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

8. Unmold cheesecake onto serving platter. Garnish as desired.


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