Thursday, November 24, 2011

Going the untraditional route: Pumpkin Cheesecake

If there are two things that are abundant in my house right now, it's pumpkin and cream cheese. Seriously, I've got half a pureed pumpkin in my freezer and blocks of cream cheese in the fridge. So that said, you're probably going to be seeing a hell of a lot of pumpkin posts coming. I know most of you are probably as sick of pumpkin by now as I'm sick of Thanksgiving posts (tiring but necessary; that's why this post is focused towards the big T-day as well) , but I guess this is an experience that will make me reconsider butchering a gigantic pumpkin next time with only four people to feed.

Now let the Pie Rant commence: (NOTE: This whole commentary on pie will only lead to why I chose to make cheesecake instead of pie for Thanksgiving. Just warning you.)

Growing up in a family where no one really ate sweets, much less pie, my pie experiences were limited to having it at my friend's houses or at random adult parties where someone would bring a pie fresh from Costco or Target's bakery. Needless to be told, greasy, overbaked crusts and artificially sweet filling was generally the norm. I could tell you horror stories about a few run-ins with pumpkin pie I've had before, but I won't elaborate- let's just say I stayed far away from the stuff.
It all changed on a very special day...
Just kidding. But my opinion of pumpkin pie did change drastically when I had a slice of absolutely divine pie made by my friend's aunt, who was in fact a restauraunt baker. The crust was buttery, flaky, and it melted on the tip of my tougue, and for the first time in my life I had a filling that actually tasted like pumpkin without being overpowering.
However, though I now joined the enlightened side, I highly doubt the people at the Thanksgiving Party I'm having T-Day dinner at tonight will be as ardent an admirer of pie as I am, being that typically Chinese people don't eat a lot of baked goods.
So I decided to try my hand at making cheesecake. Don't worry- I'll still post a pie recipe at some point, maybe this weekend- but the Thanksgiving Dessert I'm making this year will in fact be the slightly more unconventional Pumpkin Cheesecake rather than Pumpkin Pie.
And so, with all that being said, here's how you create this not-too-sweet, deliciously light pumpkin cheesecake.

*1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
*5 tablespoons butter, melted
*1 cup sugar (I only used 1/2 cup but that's just because my family doesn't like sweet stuff), plus
*1 tablespoon sugar
*3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
*1 teaspoon vanilla
*1 cup canned pumpkin
*3 eggs
*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1/4 teaspoon allspice

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2.) Make the crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and 1 T sugar in a medium bowl

3.) Stir well enough to coat all of the crumbs with the butter, but not so much as to turn the mixture into paste. Keep it crumbly.
4.) Put foil partway up the outside part of an 8-inch springform pan.
5.) Press the crumbs onto the bottom and about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the springform pan.You don't want the crust to form all of the way up the back of each slice of cheesecake
Bake the crust for 5 minutes, then set aside until you are ready to fill it.
6.) In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar and mix well

7.) Add in the pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, and allspice and beat until smooth and creamy
8.) Pour filling into the pan
9.) Bake for 60-70 minutes; the top will turn a bit darker, but when it is done the center should still be wobbly
10.) Remove from oven and allow to cool
11.) When it has come to room temperature, put it into the refridgerator
12.) When cheesecake has chilled, take it out of the pan (or take off the side if you're using a springform pan)
13.) Cut and serve with whipped cream if desired, or garnish with walnuts and almonds.

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