I have a few posts in the pipeline (after long absence!), and hadn’t planned to post today, but then I saw it was National Cheesecake Day, so had to share!

Fourth of July Cheesecake

Fourth of July Cheesecake

This was something I threw together for our 4th of July party – I had fresh blueberries, raspberry jam, and cream cheese left over from another project – so of course this came to mind!

Fourth of July Cheesecake

Adapted from ‘Raspberry-Almond Cheesecake’, in Cheesecake Madness, by John J. Segreto

Crust

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped mixed nuts
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 TB (3 oz) sweet butter, softened

Filling

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract

Topping

1 cup raspberry preserves (I used seedless)
2 cups fresh blueberries

Equipment: 9-inch springform pan

Crust:  Combine all ingredients and blend well with fingers, fork, or pastry blender.  Press or pat the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a well-buttered springform pan.  Chill in fridge or freezer for about 30 minutes.

Filling: In a large bowl, beat all ingredients until very smooth and creamy.  Pour into chilled pan.  The recipe recommends a water bath (waterproof the bottom of the springform pan and place it into a larger pan containing 1″ hot water), but I think this time I just used cake strips.  Bake in preheated 325F oven for 1.5 hours.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool for 2 hours.

Topping:  Spread preserves evenly over top of cake, then decorate with blueberries.  Carefully remove cake from pan and transfer to a serving dish.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Slice of summery heaven

Slice of summery heaven

I’ve had this cookbook for years, and have found many winners in it (especially the cheesecake base in ‘Cranberry Cheesecake’, page 56.  Oh my gosh, is that a fantastically light and fluffy cheesecake).  I’ve been meaning to stretch out and try new recipes, so chose this one.

I’d have to say it’s more toward the New York end of things (dense and kind of … dense) than I prefer.  I like cheesecake light and creamy – almost airy.  Otherwise, who can eat a whole slice?  This was a little dense and had that almost chalky feel to it that NY style cheesecake gets.  So if that’s your thing, go for it!  Otherwise, use the cranberry cheesecake recipe 🙂

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Bourbon Pumpkin Cheese Cake

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheese Cake

The other day, Zoe of Zoebakes made this scrumptious Bourbon Pumpkin Cheese Cake, and I knew I had to have one for my very own (plus, that it would make a very pretty addition to the Thanksgiving spread).

It was (is) DELICIOUS.  I can’t taste the bourbon, nor could anyone else, but I’m sure it’s in there doing something – the flavor is just wonderfully complex and smooth, the texture soft and silky.

The recipe went fairly straight-forwardly, although I decided early on to skip the sugared cranberries and just go with pomegranate seeds instead for the garnish – still pretty and elegant. I also went for the easy way out and made a graham cracker crust, which I think went fabulously with the cheese cake – just the right richness of flavors to complement the pumpkin.

I didn’t use a foil tent to bake it, and ended up with the double prophylaxis of cake strips and water bath, which might be why it took well over an hour to set up enough to do the sour cream layer – but it didn’t crack!  🙂

The biggest gap, I think, was in the removal of the cake.  “Refrigerate for a couple of hours” does not get me from cake in pan (non-springform, mind you) to cake on plate.  I wasn’t falling for that one.  After giving it some thought, I stuck the cake in the freezer for a couple of hours, then rested the bottom in a pan of very hot water for about half a minute, and then carefully upended the cake onto a layer of parchment paper.  Came out smoothly – go me!  Only lost a little bit of the edge to the paper, too.  Thawed beautifully, transported without any fuss, and was enjoyed by many.

Is still being enjoyed by us – there weren’t enough people at Thanksgiving to eat it, the carrot cake, and the chocolate tarts, so we have leftovers.  Time for another party!

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheese Cake

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheese Cake

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheese Cake
By ZoeBakes

Batter

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups [4] roasted pumpkin or canned
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon (corn or potato starch)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake topping:
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 graham cracker crust

Preheat oven to 325° and prepare an 8 by 3-Inch Round cake pan with parchment and the graham cracker crust. [I prebaked the crust for 10 minutes] Set aside.

To prepare cheese cake batter:

Mix together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment the soft cream cheese and brown sugar, until smooth.
In a separate bowl combine the pumpkin puree, eggs, sour cream, vanilla and bourbon. Slowly add to the cream cheese mixture, scraping down the sides often.
In another bowl whisk together the sugar, starch, spices and salt. Add this to the cream cheese and pumpkin mixture. Beat on medium/low speed until well combined, scraping down the sides often.

Pour into prepared pan. Gently tap the cake pan several times on the counter to bring any air bubbles to the surface.

Bake in a water bath and with a foil tent [as I said, I skipped this step], for about 45-55 minutes or until
set, slightly puffy and no longer wet looking. [It took me more like 70 minutes]

While the cake is baking mix together all the ingredients for the topping, set aside.

Once the cake is fully cooked very gently spread the on the sour cream topping with an Offset Spatula .

Bake uncovered with the topping for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove the cake and allow to cool slowly still in the water bath. Carefully run a thin blade knife around the edge of the warm cake so that it won’t crack.

Put in the refrigerator to cool for at least a couple of hours.  For absolute safety, freeze for a couple of hours before removing from the pan.  After freezing, warm the bottom of the pan briefly to re-melt some of the butter in the crust, and then up-end onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or something else nonstick, and reverse onto your platter or serving dish of choice.

Decorate with pomegranate seeds, cranberries, etc.

Pomegranate seeds on cheese cake

Pomegranate seeds on cheese cake

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 first is Waiter, There’s Something In My…, whose theme this month is For the Love of Gourd.

(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.

Potiron a la creme

Potiron à la crème

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

pinch salt

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.

Directions:

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…

Potiron de la crème

Potiron à la crème

This was an incredible amount of fun! I’m looking forward to next month’s theme.