06 November 2008

I absolutely love pumpkins. I love to grow them, carve them, decorate with them, cook with them- you get the idea. I've been having some pumpkin withdrawal over the past couple of years as we now live in a place that doesn't lend itself to pumpkin growing. However, our HOA has lightened up a bit and have given me the go ahead to plant some things beyond the borders of our own tiny yard. I hope to get some of my great-grandmother's bulbs in the ground this coming week. These are offspring of lilies and irises she grew over eighty years ago. Gardening is the only thing I ever had in common with her and it does my very vibrant 84 year old grandmother's heart good to know that I plan to carry on the tradition of caring for the family's heirloom plants. Here is a gift of a good pumpkin cheesecake recipe that all of you bakers might want to make for Thanksgiving. I haven't added it to the bakery's offerings yet as it needs to be further tested for commercial baking purposes. However, it will make the cut before long and I encourage you to give-it-a-go if you like pumpkin cheesecake.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

When making cheesecakes, make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature so they blend together to create a smooth texture. Cold cheese is harder to beat and you can end up with graininess. Judging when a cheesecake is fully baked presents a challenge. They can be deceptive as they do need to be removed from the oven when the center is still wobbly and wet looking.
Cracking can also be a problem. As a cheesecake bakes its moisture evaporates. If too much moisture is lost (when overcooked), or if it evaporates too quickly (oven temp. too hot) cracking will occur. Be sure to follow your recipe's instructions. Also, to prevent cracking, shortly after you remove the cheesecake from the oven, run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the cheesecake. Once the cheesecake has completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. This allows the cake to set, flavors to meld, and produces a creamier texture.

To Begin:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a non stick spray) an 8 inch (20 cm) springform pan.

Crust Ingredients:
1 cup (100 grams) graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cups (50 grams) finely ground ginger cookies, homemade or store bought
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar
4 - 5 tablespoons (56 - 60 grams) unsalted butter, melted

For The Crust:
In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, finely ground ginger snap cookies, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared spring form pan. Cover and refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling.
Then, in a medium sized bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, finely ground ginger snap cookies, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared spring form pan.

Cheesecake Ingredients:
2/3 cup (145 grams) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound (454 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
(canned or homemade)
You can use a high quality, canned, pure pumpkin in this recipe. Libby's will qualify and is what I would use.

Topping Ingredients:
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

For the Cheesecake:
In a separate bowl, stir to combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), on low speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth (about 2 minutes). Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until creamy and smooth (1 to 2 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree.
Pour the filling over the chilled ginger crust and place the spring form pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Place a cake pan, filled halfway with hot water, on the bottom shelf of your oven to moisten the air. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees C (165 degrees C) and continue to bake the cheesecake for another 10 - 20 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake are puffed but the center is still wet and jiggles when you gently shake the pan.
Meanwhile whisk together the sour cream, vanilla extract and sugar. Pour the sour cream mixture over the top of the baked cheesecake and rotate the pan slightly to evenly distribute the topping. Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake about 8 minutes to set the topping. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Loosen the cake from the pan by running a sharp knife around the inside edge (this will help prevent the cake from cracking). Then place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan so the cheesecake will cool slowly. When completely cooled, cover and refrigerate at least eight hours, preferably overnight, before serving.

Serves 10-12 people.

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