November 28, 2009 | Desserts, Vegetables
I’m not much of a dessert person. That’s not to say that I don’t like sweet things – ask my friends about how sweet I make my coffee, and I don’t go to bed many nights without a cookie as a snack. But when it comes to ordering dessert after a meal, I’m usually too full to enjoy it. Well, it’s now two days after Thanksgiving, and I present to you my Thanksgiving dessert…
…pumpkin cheesecake with a gingerbread cookie crust drizzled with decadent caramel sauce. I would attribute this to someone if I could piece together all of the recipes I perused on the Internet, but the reality is that I ended up with something all my own.
And it started with this collection of winter squash from my CSA farm. Now I know I called this a pumpkin cheesecake, but that’s only because pumpkin-delicata-sugarloaf was just too long. The reality is that most sweet winter squash such as these (along with butternut and acorn) can be used interchangeably in many recipes.
Just cook them all up until they are soft like this (make sure to put some knife holes in them before you put them in the oven so they don’t explode), then scooped out the seeds and harvested the pulpy flesh from inside. You can also buy canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, which is different) if you want, but what fun is that?
…and measure out enough for the recipe. For me, it conveniently measured out to just enough for 2 cheesecakes – one for my feast and one for a new client I’m doing some “cheffing” for.
Butter the sides and bottom of a springform pan then line the bottom with parchment paper and butter that. The ginger snap crust gets pressed to the bottom and baked a bit…
…before adding the filling and baking in a water bath. Now here’s the important part – if you are using a springform pan, you need to tightly seal it by wrapping it in foil so that no water leaks in through the ring at the bottom. It’s easier to do this first than to try to pull the floating cake pans out of the hot water to save them like I did, having forgotten this crucial step. (I keep telling you, I’m not much of a baker!)
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce
1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg white
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
>8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
caramel sauce, to top
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the inside of an 8-10 inch springform pan and line the bottom with buttered parchment paper. Combine cookie crumbs with sugar, butter and egg white, then press into the bottom of the pan. Bake until just set, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly Mix together cream cheese and brown sugar until just barely smooth, then add pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, and mace and mix on a low speed for about 2 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and mix 2 more minutes to combine, then add eggs and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides after each ingredient is added to ensure even mixing. Pour pumpkin filling over the crust then wrap the outside of the springform pan with foil to ensure no water gets into the cheesecake while baking. Set in a large pan and place in the oven, then fill the baking pan with hot water until it reaches 2/3 of the way up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the center of the cheesecake is lightly set, about 60-75 minutes. Remove and let cool in the refrigerator for 8 hours before unmolding the springform pan. To serve, drizzle slices with caramel sauce.