Friday, November 27, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake (with Gingersnap Crust)

My very first cheesecake, this was a huge success after Thanksgiving dinner!! I made two "additions": I added a bag of dried cranberries into the batter before baking, and I used gingersnaps instead of graham crackers for the crust. Oh, also, I didn't have allspice so I left it out. This recipe is from the Nov/Dec '03 issue of Cook's Illustrated, which I found online here. The texture is light and "mousse"-y. Yum!!!

Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 12 to 16

Make sure to begin the recipe by removing the cream cheese and eggs from the refrigerator. Depending on the oven and the temperature of the ingredients, the cheesecake may bake about 15 minutes faster or slower than the directions indicate; it is therefore best to check the cake 1 1/4 hours into baking. Although the cheesecake can be made up to 3 days in advance, the crust will begin to lose its crispness after only 1 day. To make slicing the cheesecake easy and neat, use a knife with a narrow blade, such as a carving knife; between cuts, dip the blade into a pitcher of hot water and wipe it clean with paper towels. The cheesecake is good on its own, but the Brown Sugar and Bourbon Cream (recipe follows) is a grand addition.

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

1 1/3 cups (10 1/3 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks and left to soften at room temperature about 30 minutes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
5 large eggs, left at room temperature about 30 minutes
1 cup heavy cream

1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse crackers, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and, using hand, spread crumbs into even layer. Using flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use soup spoon to press and smooth crust into edges of pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

2. For the filling: Bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in large saucepan or stockpot. Combine sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl and whisk to combine. Follow illustrations 00 through 00 to remove excess moisture from pumpkin. (Lay down about 4 paper towels, put pumpkin on top, press 4 or more paper towels on top to remove excess moisture.)

3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula. Add about a third of sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping bowl after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.

4. Set springform pan with cooled crust on 18-inch-square doubled layer heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan. Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours (see note). Set roasting pan on wire rack and cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

5. To serve: Run paring knife around cake to loosen; remove sides of pan. Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving platter. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Best Regards,