Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

I was fully prepared to make these Pumpkin Pie cupcakes for Thanksgiving this year until I heard the recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake on NPR while driving home from work last Wednesday.  The flavors seemed so delicious (and Chris's favorite dessert is cheesecake) that I just had to scrape the cupcake plan and try this recipe out.  I am SOOOOO glad I did.

I decided to use cinnamon graham crackers for my crust rather than regular = great decision!! Don't the crust ingredients look delicious in the processor?!

After the crust was made, it was time to start on the filling.  I remembered to take my cream cheese out of the fridge to let it soften before mixing it up (makes it so much easier!).

I think manhandling the pumpkin was my favorite part of this recipe.  Because pumpkin naturally has moisture and moisture doesn't help hold the cheesecake filling together, you de-moisturize the pumpkin before adding it to the mixing bowl. 

The first step in this process is to lay out a few layers of paper towels onto a cookie sheet.

 Then, you scrape out the pumpkin on the paper towels,

 and begin to pat out the moisture.

I was shocked at how full of moisture my pumpkin was!

Once the pumpkin and cream cheese and other ingredients were in the bowl, I manually (because I don't have the space for a big, awesome paddle mixer) mixed the cream cheese, pumpkin other ingredients together. The eggs came last.

This is my Spiced Pumpkin cheese cake!  It looked so pretty and Thanksgiving-like out on a plate because the crust is a dark brown and the inside is beautiful pumpkin orange.  Look here for a side view!

Here is the detailed recipe (adapted from NPR):

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

1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15 ounce) can of unsweetened pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix!)
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

For the crust:
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Pulse crackers, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in food processor until crackers are finely ground, about 15 pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle with melted butter, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Empty crumbs into 9-inch spring form pan and, using bottom of dry measuring cup, press crumbs firmly and evenly into pan bottom, keeping sides as clean as possible. Bake crust until fragrant and browned around edges, about 15 minutes. Let crust cool completely on wire rack, about 30 minutes. When cool, wrap outside of pan with two 18-inch square pieces heavy-duty aluminum foil and set spring form pan in roasting pan. Bring kettle of water too boil.

For the filling:
Whisk sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt in small bowl; set aside. Line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels.  Spread pumpkin on paper towels in roughly even layer and pat puree with several layers of paper towels to wick away moisture.

In large mixing bowl, mix cream cheese until broken up and slightly softened.  Scrape down bowl, then beat in sugar mixture in 3 additions until combined, scraping down bowl after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix until combined, scrape down bowl. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated.  Add heavy cream and beat until combined,  Give one final stir at the end.

Being careful not to disturb basked crust, brunch inside of pan with melted butter.  pour filling into prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Set roasting pan on oven rack and pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides of spring form pan. Bake cake until center is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, about 1 1/2 hours. Set roasting pan on wire rack then run pairing knife around cake.  Let cake cool in roasting pan until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove spring form pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to let cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Warp with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.


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