Monday, October 17, 2005

Weekend Project #1: Pumpkin Cheesecake

This cheesecake was rich in flavor, yet light in texture. My husband commented that it was lighter than pumpkin pie. The crust has amazing flavor, using spices that pair perfectly with the pumpkin. I did end up with a crack in the top middle part of my cake (notice how conveniently there is no photo of the top?)...but the taste and texture was excellent. I did use a water bath as directed in the cookbook, and I think that this makes a big difference. My hubby has baked cheesecakes before and usually the crust comes out very dense and a little hard. The crust on this was perfect!

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
Serves 12 to 16
(from The New Best Recipe Cookbook)

Depending on the oven and the temperature of the ingredients, this cheesecake may bake about 15 minutes faster or slower than the instructions indicate; it is, therefore, best to check the cake 1 1/4 hours into baking. Although the cheesecake may be made up to 3 days in advance, the crust will begin to lose its crispness after only 1 day.

9 whole graham crackers (5 ounces), broken into rough pieces
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 1/3 cups (9 1/3 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream

1. For the crust: adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Place the crackers, sugar, and spices in a food processor and process until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl, drizzle the melted butter over, and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn the crumbs into the prepared springform pan and spread the crumbs in an even layer. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes. When cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two 18-inch-square pieces of heavy-duty foil; set the springform pan in a roasting pan.

2. For the filling: Bring about 4 quarts of water to a simmer in a stockpot. While the crust is cooling, whisk the sugar, spices, and salt in a smalll bowl; set aside. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin on the towels and cover with a second triple layer of towels. Press firmly until the towels are saturated. Peel back the first layer of towels and discard. Grasp the bottom towels and fold the pumpkin in half; peel back the towels. Repeat and flip the pumpkin onto the baking sheet; discard the towels.

3. Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer set at medium speed to break up and soften slightly; about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula. Add about a third of the sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl and add the remaining sugar in two additions, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add 3 of the eggs and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl. Add the remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give a final stir by hand.

4. Pour the filling into the springform pan and smooth the surface; set the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the center of the cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken and it registers 150 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours (see note). Set the roasting pan on a wire rack and cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and set the pan on the wire rack; run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake and cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

5. To serve: remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the pan bottom to loosen the cake, then slide the cake onto a serving platter. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.


Clare Eats said...

That looks so good :)
Did you know you can't even buy pumpkin puree in a can in Oz?

Kristi said...

This looks delicious! Pumpkin cheesecake is on my fall baking list, and though I have a recipe for it, which I've never tried before, I think I may just use yours instead since it came out so perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

Dawn said...

Hi Clare, thanks, it tasted good, too. I considered making my own puree using a sugar pumpkin...but I came to my senses and realized that I'd be too tired to finish the cheesecake after that!

kristi, good luck on the cheesecake. I think this may be my first cheesecake I've ever baked and beside the cracks in the middle on the top (my husband says I should've pulled it out just a little bit earlier, but who knows?) this was awesome!

Stephanie said...

It looks tasty! I am not a huge pumpkin fan, but that does look good. Sounds like it took all day!!