Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

With so much pumpkin puree to use, I opted for a cheesecake recipe to bring to work. Doesn't eveyone like cheesecake? And pumpkin flavored cheesecake might even be a winner with those people who aren't big pumpkin pie fans.

I didn't make any changes to the recipe at all except instead of using a food processor for the nuts I used a blender.

Spiced Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
adapted from Cooking Club of America
click to print

2 c pecans, toasted*
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

3 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c packed brown sugar, divided
3/4 c sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 c pumpkin puree
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 325°F. Wrap outside of 9-inch springform pan with heavy-duty foil.

I didn't have any heavy-duty foil but went ahead with regular foil, taking care not to leave any seams at the bottom. The goal is to prevent water to seep into the pan and the foil is the barrier, like a cheesecake condom.

Pulse pecans and 2 tablespoons brown sugar in blender until finely ground.

Add melted butter; pulse just until combined.

I was afraid to use the blender to pulse any further - it looked like the ground nuts were becoming butter.

Press into bottom of pan.

If this works I'll be stunned. The nuts are like mud!

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until set and dry. Cool on wire rack.

I goofed around with baking this crust for 50 minutes, taking it out of the oven every 10 minutes for evaluation. It didn't get dry and was beginning to smell burnt.

Beat cream cheese and 3/4 cup of the brown sugar in large bowl at medium speed just until blended.

I prefer beating cream cheese until it's smooth before adding anything.

Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl.

Add eggs one at a time, beating at low speed just until combined.

Whisk pumpkin, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg in medium bowl.

Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of the cheesecake mixture.

Spoon half of the remaining plain cheesecake mixture into crust. Top with half of the pumpkin filling. Repeat (do not spread evenly for best swirls).

I used way too much of the plain batter on the first pour, leaving too little on the second pour.

With knife or metal spatula, gently swirl through batter to achieve a marbled effect.

Place springform pan in large shallow roasting or broiler pan; add enough hot tap water to come halfway up sides of springform pan.

Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until edges are puffed and top is dry to the touch. Center should move slightly when pan is tapped but should not ripple as if liquid.

The cheesecake looks overdone, doesn't it?

And wow, does my oven need to be cleaned! That pile of black lava in the back must be pumpkin juice charcoal from my last pumpkin roasting.

Remove springform pan from roasting pan; remove foil.

Oh, crap, there's water inside the foil. And notice how the foil in the first photo is discolored where it was sitting in the water. Because a reaction occured, it did affect the texture of the CorningWare dish. I'd recommend using a metal pan to hold your water if you have a choice. I don't know if it will make a difference in future cooking, but it's just not a good feeling knowing a once pretty dish is jacked up.

Cool on wire rack to room temperature.

Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight. Store in refrigerator.

The cheesecake went over well even though the crust was wet and burnt. One response was, "it's like cheesecake and pumpkin pie in one!" I was impressed with how the texture of the cheesecake turned out, very nice, even though the pumpkin puree was really wet going in. The swirls were observed after the cheesecake was cut, but it would've been nice to see it on top. I was also surprised to see that the cheesecake didn't crack!

Technical issues were primarily with the crust. It just refused to dry and set up even though I baked it more than three times the recommended time. There are a couple of variables to consider: if it was because I over-toasted the nuts by about 7-9 minutes, if using a blender to grind the nuts is a bad choice, or if the pecans I used just happened to be really oily. That last one is really iffy.

A second technical problem was the foil. There was a breach and some water was allowed to enter the foil and seep into the cheesecake crust. I'll get some heavier weight foil next time.

Total: $10.21 but I'll round up to $10.50 considering spices, making each of 12 servings about $0.88.