Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Pecan Crust

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When I was little, I would never swallow something that I didn't like. What was even more awesome than this was that I would never spit it out either.

I would stand there, holding whatever it was in my mouth until it started seeping out from between my lips.

One of the things that I've always disliked is cheesecake.

I also have this weird habit of continuing to try things that I don't like just to make sure I don't like it.

One year, The Hubble gave me a bite of his New York cheesecake (The Hubble loves cheesecake). I took the bite and a few seconds after putting the bite in my mouth I realized that I was holding it there. Not swallowing, not spitting it out.

At that point I figured since I was an adult, I should force myself to swallow it.

The one exception to this dislike of cheesecake is the pumpkin cheesecake.

When I worked at the Barnes & Noble in Las Cruces, NM my boss there convinced me to try a piece of pumpkin cheesecake. I fell head over heels in love!

Pumpkin cheesecake is like a smooth, creamy pumpkin pie. Ten times better than regular pumpkin pie. I was hooked!

When The Cake Slice Bakers voted on this pumpkin cheesecake for the month of November, I was a bit hesitant but also excited. See, I already have a pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I like. BUT, I was definitely willing to give this one a try. Especially when I realized the crust was made of ground pecans and crystallized ginger!

This cheesecake did NOT disappoint. In fact, it may replace my other recipe. It is smooth and creamy. This is the first cheesecake I've made that didn't crack. And the crust. Oh the crust. I am a sucker for all things ginger, and when it's crystallized ginger?? Be still my heart!

This recipe is definitely a keeper. Do youself a favor...run out and get the ingredients to make this and serve it at your Thanksgiving Day feast. Your loved ones will thank you!

Let's bake!

Let's make the crust first. Throw all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process that stuff until the pecans are finely ground and the whole thing starts to come together as a dough.

Press the mixture into a greased, foil wrapped springform pan.

Then bake it up until the edges start to brown. Place it on a wire rack and let it cool completely.

While that's cooling, we can make the filling. Whisk together the pumpkin, cream and some spices.

Then cream the cream cheese until it's fluffy.

Add the granulated...

And brown sugar gradually.

Then add the eggs, one at a time. Make sure you mix well and scrape the bowl in between each addition.

Now mix in the pumpkin mixture.

And the cornstarch.

Pour the filling onto the cooled crust. Place the whole thing in a water bath and bake it up until the top is set but still a bit wobbly.

Place the pan on a wire rack, remove the foil and immediately run a paring knife along the edges to prevent the top of the cake from cracking.

Make your pumpkin seeds and whipped cream if you are going to.

Slice the cake, dollop with whipped cream, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds, serve, and enjoy!!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Pecan Crust
Adapted from The Cake Book

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For the Crust

  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon cold water
For the Filling
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds (2 1/2-8 ounce blocks) lower fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 large eggs
For the Sugared Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1/2 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 large egg white
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Whipped Cream
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Crust
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x3 inch springform pan with baking spray. Cut an 18 inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap the foil around the outside of the pan.
  2. Place the ingredients for the crust in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the pecans are finely ground and the dough comes together.
  3. Press dough into an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until it begins to brown.
  5. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
For the Filling
  1. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt until well combined.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as necessary.
  4. Gradually add the sugars and beat until blended.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
  6. Add the pumpkin mixture and mix until blended.
  7. Add the cornstarch and mix until just combined.
  8. Pour the batter into the cooled crust.
  9. Place the pan in a large roasting pan. Fill the pan with enough water to reach 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.
  10. Bake in the water bath for 70 to 80 minutes, or until the center of the cake is set but slightly wobbly (the cake will set completely as it cools).
  11. Remove the cake pan from the water bath. Place the pan on a wire rack. Remove the foil from the pan.
  12. Immediately run the tip of a paring knife around the sides of the pan, to prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking. 
  13. Let the cake cool completely then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
  14. Top with sugared pumpkin seeds and whipped cream, serve and enjoy!
For the Sugared Pumpkin Seeds
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Place the pumpkin seeds in a small mixing bowl.
  3. In another small bowl, whisk the egg white just until frothy.
  4. Add just enough of the egg white to the pumpkin seeds to coat them.
  5. Add the salt, sugar, and cinnamon, and toss well to coat the seeds.
  6. Spread the seeds evenly on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake, tossing them occasionally with a spatula, for 15 to 20 minutes or until they begin to dry and color.
  8. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely.
  9. Separate the chunks of seeds with your fingers then top cheesecake with the seeds.
For the Whipped Cream
  1. In the chilled bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the cream on high speed just until it begins to thicken.
  2. Add the sugar and vanilla; beat until soft peaks form.
  3. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate.
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