The food blogonet (blogblossom?) has several running themes, as it were, organized groups of people baking in concert. Sometimes they’re all baking from the same recipe (Tuesdays with Dorie, or Daring Bakers), sometimes just using a common ingredient or theme. I’m planning to participate in a few of these, usually the ones that let me have the most rein for my creativity.
(The roundup for all entries us up! Wow, there are some pretty tasty looking things.)
My gourd? The ubiquitous pumpkin. Remember those pumpkins? Well, I still had plenty of pumpkin left after making up the cute little pumpkin cakes, so I tried to think of something interesting to do with it. I was thinking cheesecake, but maybe a little different…. and then I had it.
I’d recently acquired Roland Mesnier’s Basic to Beautiful Cakes, and was taken by the Coeur à la crème – an unbaked cheesecake, that you drain overnight in a special mould. The original recipe called for a combination of cream cheese, sugar, and creme fraiche. I thought, “wouldn’t a Pumpkin Coeur a la crème be neat?”, and started looking for a pumpkin-shaped mould that I could turn to my purposes.
I mean, it’s almost Halloween, right? How hard can it be to find a pumpkin-shaped plastic dish that I can poke holes into? Surely people have those plastic candy dishes?
Four stores later, I’d changed the plan somewhat. Instead of draining the cheesecake in a pumpkin shaped mould, I ended up using a 6″ ring lined with an extra layer of cheesecake, set on top of a cooling rack (to make the indentations).
I changed the ingredients up somewhat – I thought the creme fraîche and cream cheese alone might be too tart with the pumpkin, so I swapped out some of the cream cheese for marscapone, and cut back on the crème fraiche. I also added some ‘pumpkin pie spice’ (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger).
Here are the original proportions:
14 oz cream cheese
6 TB granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups crème fraîche.
Now, I didn’t make exact measurements as I was going along, but it was something like:
1 part cream cheese
1 part pumpkin puree, drained (wrap in cheesecloth and squeeze moisture out)
1/2 part marscapone
1/2 part crème fraîche.
Some sugar to taste
pumpkin pie spices (about 2 tsp, total)
Few tablespoons bittersweet chocolate, melted, for decoration.
1. Wet a 15 x 15-inch piece of cheesecloth with cold water and wring out so it is damp but not dripping. Place the cheesecloth inside a 9-inch coeur a la creme mould (I used a 6″ ring set on top of a cooling rack, with a piece of aluminum foil folded up to make an indentation for the ‘stem’), with the edges overhanging the rim of the mould. Place the mould on a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Place the cheeses, sugar, salt, and pumpkin puree in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until fluffy. In another bowl, whip the crème fraîche with the whisk attachment until it just holds stiff peaks. Gently fold the crème fraîche into the cream cheese mixture.
3. Scrape the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined mould and smooth it with a spatula. Fold the overhanging cheesecloth on top of the mixture, smoothing out the wrinkles where possible, so that the surface is entirely covered. Gently pat it down. Refrigerate the mould, still on the baking sheet, overnight ot allow the excess moisture to drain. (moisture may well have evaporated out of mine, but there was nothing underneat the cooling rack in the morning. Then again, I used less crème fraîche, and squeezed my pumpkin puree to get rid of excess moisture, so there may not have been much to start with anyways).
4. Peel away the cheesecloth that covers the top, and invert the mould onto a serving platter. Lift off the mould and carefully peel away and discard the cheesecloth. Decorate as desired (I piped melted chocolate to make the stem and vines). Let stand for 30 minutes, and serve.
It turned out really, really well. The texture is incredibly silky and smooth, and the taste was pumpkiny with a hint of tartness. Very rich – a small piece does quite well. The chocolate garnish was a good touch, as well – just a hint of chocolately sweetness to mingle with the pumpkiny-tartness. I’m now thinking of ways to make small versions of this for the cafe…
This was an incredible amount of fun! I’m looking forward to next month’s theme.