Monday, December 3, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake, Take 3

The last cheesecake, Take 2, looked like it was perfect. Right up to where I removed the foil and found water.

Since the crust in that last cheesecake looked very promising, I'm going to reduce the amount of time the nuts are in the blender expecting that will minimize the baking time required for the crust to become dry and set, possibly down to the originally recommended baking time.

I'm not going to do anything to investigate the last cheesecake cracking. It might be because I was tilting the entire hot cheesecake or it could legitimately be the difference in water content of the pumpkin vs plain batter portions, or something else entirely. I'll save that for another day.

Spiced Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake, Take 3
adapted from Cooking Club of America

2 c pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

24-oz 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.

Pulse pecans in blender just until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add brown sugar and melted butter; stir just until combined.

Press into bottom of pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until set and dry. Cool on wire rack.

Say what?! It worked! Crust is set and dry in 15 minutes!

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

Beat in sour cream and vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time, beating at low speed just until combined, scraping down the bowl between eggs.

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.

Wrap outside of 9-inch springform pan with two layers of foil.

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).

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.

Ok, so the water doesn't reach halfway up the springform pan sides. Remembering back to the first try of this recipe, I used the Corningware dish which is taller and more narrow meaning the same volume of water reaches higher up on the springform sides. That cheesecake didn't crack at all though it didn't have swirls. My cracking question still isn't answered.

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.

Remove springform pan from roasting pan; remove foil. Cool on wire rack to room temperature.

Look, tiny cracks in the cake. And ugh! The foil is loaded with oil! Or butter! Or oily butter! Ugh!

Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight. Store in refrigerator.
This is where I deviated from the recipe. After midnight when the cheesecake came out of the oven, tired and disgruntled by the oily foil, I left the cake to cool on the wire rack while I fooled around with Take 2 momentarily before napping. That nap turned into full-on zzz's. I figured I'd bring the cheesecake to work to chill a good portion of the day and then get it out to serve later-day.

In the morning I removed the springform pan sides and transferred the oily-bottomed pan and cake from the wire rack to a plate which was covered with plastic wrap. My fingers were so slick from handling the cheesecake I looked closely at the wire rack. It was dripping with oil. I went ahead and brought it to work anyway.

The cheesecake had cracked like crazy and oozed oil overnight.

Total: $8.97, or about $0.75 for each of 12 servings.

The cheesecake was in the fridge about 2 hours before it was brought out and dug into. The crust actually turned out pretty good. It didn't taste burned and it held up quite nicely. The oil was crazy though. After a few people took slices, the pan looked really unappetizingly greasy, downright disgusting really. And you can't walk around telling everyone it's just pecan oil and/or butter. At the end of the day 1/4 of the cheesecake went into the trash, which was a major bummer.

It's very likely the cheesecake would have been much more appetizing if it had chilled properly in the refrigerator at least 8 hours, but the oil thing is still annoying. If the oil doesn't come out of the nuts when grinding them, clearly it will come out when baking. It makes me wonder if the crust on Take 2 would've been just as oily if water hadn't been allowed in. Wait, that doesn't make sense either. I'm baffled.

Maybe the key is to reduce the butter. Or this is the justification for buying a food processor. Could it have magical nut-grinding powers?