Bad things happen I ignore the rules of physics. In the chaos between coding and baking, I forgot the whole concept of things expanding or contracting when met with heat or cold. Kids, coding and baking don’t mix! Rather than the beautifully smooth spiced pumpkin cheesecake I pulled out of the oven last night, I am now the proud owner of what I dubbed Dinosaur Cheesecake.
My local supermarkets only carry canned pure pumpkin in 28oz cans. It is better value for sure but rarely do I encounter recipes calling for 28oz of pumpkin puree. So after I satisfied my craving yesterday to greet autumn with a batch of pumpkin muffin, I was left with an unfinished can of orange pulp. I wouldn’t mind it so much if I actually like eating plain pumpkin puree. Alas, I don’t. A double header of pumpkin dessert was my logical choice. It was not a tough decision when it came time to decide on a recipe. Blocks of cream cheese were on sale. Spiced pumpkin cheesecake is both luxurious and seasonal. It was the kind of showstopper dessert I want to bring to a party tonight.
I made Cook’s Illustrated Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake long time ago in 2006. I remember the luscious texture and great balance of flavour. But beyond that, my memory of this recipe is fuzzy. Like many recipes coming out of America’s Test Kitchen, there is an unusual trick or two to improve on such classics. For this recipe, the key is drawing out excess moisture from pumpkin puree using sheets of paper towel. It worked like a charm and my pumpkin puree dried to workable consistency in no time.
With 24oz of cream cheese, 5 eggs, and a cup of cream, this dessert is anything but light. However, the delicate and smooth taste can easily convince anyone to continue bite after bite. The base is made with crunchy graham crumbs enhanced with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. The custard itself is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice for the traditional pumpkin pie taste. I forgo the bain marie and baked my cheesecake at a lower temperature of 300F instead for longer baking time. I never have good luck with waterproofing my bain marie set up and I would be sorely disappointed if my cheesecake turns out soggy. Everything proceeded as planned and I removed the perfectly smooth cheesecake from the oven after 2 hours of baking to reach internal temperature of 150F.
I thought all the heavy lifting was done so I turned my attention back to the lines of code on my computer. It would take a long time for the cheesecake to cool to room temperature and I had plenty of work to do. Unfortunately, I neglect one very important fact. As the cheesecake cooled down, the custard wanted to contract and pull unto itself. However, I didn’t loosen the edge of the cheesecake. By the time I checked on it half an hour later, I was face to face with a huge crack across the middle of the previously perfect surface. Oh no!
Disappointment was an understatement but creativity is at its best in the face of failure. I filled the crack with whiskey brown sugar whipped cream (tinted orange with a bit of pumpkin puree) and planted pieces of candied pepitas (pumpkin seeds) down the middle. The green hue of the pepitas made me think of the scales of reptiles. The strategically positioned shards looked a little like the pointy spines of stegosaurus. This garnish is both taste-appropriate and whimsy. I like it!
Recipe is available online (subscription only). Time to go to the party and see how my tasters like this cheesecake.
More on cheesecakes:
- Apricot Cheesecake Bar
- No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake
- Cherry Cheesecake In A Jar
- Banana Cheesecake
- Slow Cooker Chocolate Cheesecake
- Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake
- Souffle Cheesecake
- Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Sorbet Pomme Tatin
- Tourteau De Chevre
- Goat Cheese Onion Tart