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Oh baking.  Once upon a time, you were my favorite thing.  These days, I’m slightly afraid of you.

This year, I decided it was time to make another cheesecake for a meal that pretty much guaranteed I wouldn’t be eating cheesecake and getting fat all week.

Here is my recipe; found it a couple of years ago and it works really well: http://joyofbaking.com/PumpkinCheesecake.html

My springform pans were all 9 inches so it was a little wider and thinner than what that beautiful video shows.  The weird-ish part: it didn’t take any less time to bake.

Anyhoo…. since we have “gluten-free” as a rule at the Thanksgiving table to accommodate dietary restrictions, I shelled out a few extra bucks for gluten-free/vegan ginger snaps.  I can’t remember the brand: found them in the natural foods section of Fred Meyer in a green resealable bag.  If you can’t find these, opt for the crunchy cookies.  I don’t envision soft ginger “snaps” to be any good for this kind of crust.

Ingredients:

For crust:

  • 1.5c crushed gluten-free ginger snap cookies
  • 1t white sugar 
  • 5T butter, melted (recipe said 4-5; I always opt for more, especially when my pan is bigger)

Start by preparing your springform pan by rubbing it up with butter. Mmmm butter.  Toss your ginger snaps into a food processor with the sugar and whirl it up til the cookies are little crusties.  Transfer into a bowl, and mix with the melted butter, then press into your prepared pan.  If you don’t like to get your hands dirty (wimp!), use a spatula or wax paper to press the crust in tight.

See? It's so easy!

Now that’s done, wrap the bottom with foil and throw it in the fridge.

For the cheesecake:

  • 2/3c brown sugar (recipe calls for light; I generally stock dark so whatever you’ve got should work just fine)
  • 1/2t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4t ground ginger
  • 1/8t ground cloves
  • 1/8t ground nutmeg
  • 1/4t salt
  • 2- 8oz packages of cream cheese (at room temp – this is IMPORTANT)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1t pure vanilla extract
  • 1c pumpkin puree

In a little bowl, combine your “spices”, salt and sugar; my measuring spoons don’t go down to 1/8 of a teaspoon, so I just eyeballed it, and went heavier on just about everything.  If you’re fancy schmancy, you can freshly grind (?) the nutmeg.

In your KitchenAid (or whatever mixer you’ve got), beat the cream cheese til it’s smooth on low-speed.  Don’t be like me and force thaw the cream cheese.  Baking takes patience, and with age it’s something I’ve lost. Sad.

Add your sugar mixture gradually, *then* add your eggs once at a time.  Again, don’t be like me. I went backwards and started adding the eggs before the sugar. d’oh!  Scrape the sides of the bowl so you don’t have a clump of unmixed cream cheese at the bottom.  Add pumpkin puree and vanilla.  AGAIN, don’t be like me and forget the vanilla!!  Distractions are not good when you’re baking- you’re bound to screw something up if you’re not paying attention.

Once this is done, get your crusted springform out of the fridge.  Pour in the mix and toss it in the oven for 30 mins at 350 degrees, then turn down to 325 degrees and bake another 10-20 minutes.  *Disclaimer: I don’t understand why this step is necessary.  My cheese needed to cook longer, and higher temp probably would have worked well for my case.

Generally when I make a cheesecake, I have it in a water bath to keep moisture in the cake.  Since my monster roaster was holding my turkey, I went along with the recipe and filled a pie plate with water to add moisture to the oven.

While this is in the oven, make the sour cream topping.  Mmmmm sour cream.

Sour Cream Topping:

  • 1c sour cream (I like Daisy brand- it does not have corn syrup or corn starch)
  • 1t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4c white sugar

Throw all of this into a medium sized bowl and whisk away! 

Once your cheesecake is ready to come out (apparently the sides will puff up a little but the center will “jiggle” when you “gently” shake the pan), pour on your sour cream topping and bake another 10 minutes.

When finished, we took off for sushi (a two hour snow-filled excursion… another story for another time).  I ran a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen cake from sides, covered the pan with foil and got out of there.  I didn’t want to put the cake directly in the fridge for fear of screwing it up further.  As you can see, a result of not waiting til the cheese is at room temperature resulted in chunks.  Nobody likes a chunky cheesecake (or at least the baker hates it but everyone else seemed to enjoy).

We baked this on Friday night; dinner was Saturday.  So after this baby chilled in the fridge all night, we took it out a couple of hours before dinner.  Once again, I slipped a knife around the edges in case I missed something.  Then it was time for the moment of truth.

I always get nervous for this part… like failure is my destiny, and everything will just swoosh out the sides, or half of the side will come apart when you unbuckle (or whatever) the edge of the springform.

Success!  Sides look like crap due to lumpy cream cheese, but the overall flavor was good.  Just remember, when you’re putting it out for presentation, make sure the pretty side shows best.  That took a little maneuvering on my part, but oh well.  Tasted good, but still not my best work.

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