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

Advertisements

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.

Pumpkins!

Pumpkin Patch Party Cakes

Autumn is well upon us, even in the South, although it looks different than what I’m used to. The leaves don’t so much turn colors as just fall off the tree (although they are as equally efficacious at clogging up gutters as their northern counterparts), and during the day the temperatures still climb into the 80s on a regular basis – but at night there’s a chill in the air, and the morning ride into work is a brisk one. The farmer’s markets are starting to show mostly autumn produce – squashes, the last of the leafy vegetables, etc. Which means one thing – pumpkins!

I picked up a few baking pumpkins at Trader Joe’s (the local farmer’s market being out of them by the time I dragged myself out of bed on Saturday), and roasted them up to use in various things. I’ve been steaming them rather than straight-up roasting – making a foil tent and putting some water into the bottom of the pan. I find that it’s much faster (takes only half an hour for a medium-sized pumpkin), but that you don’t get those lovely little caramelized bits at the edges. Still tasty, though, at least as much as the canned stuff.

The first thing on my list that I’ve been waiting to try out was a cute little recipe for pumpkin-shaped pumpkin cupcakes (found in Southern Lady magazine, Sept/Oct 2008 – Southern Lady has some really nice dessert content – there are always a few recipes per issue that I want to bake!). Not having a mini-bundt pan, I’d been looking around and ended up getting a mini-kugelhof pan, which is a little narrower at top. And, also, takes less batter – I’d filled the hollows about 2/3 full and had quite a bit of over-spillage at the top. The trimmings were usually as big as cookies themselves – perfect for sandwiching together with some extra frosting!

Pumpkin-top "Sandwiches"

Waste not, want not - Pumpkin-top "Sandwiches"

I also had plenty of batter left over for trying out my new silicon muffin pan, so there really ended up quite the pumpkin extravaganza, as you can see:

The Harvest (plus some NYT chocolate chip cookies, yum!)

The Harvest (plus some NYT chocolate chip cookies, yum!)

And now, the Party Pumpkins!

Pumpkin Patch Party Cakes
Yield:
6.00 servings

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar (I used light)
  • ¾ cup granulated suar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) can LIBBY’S 100% Pure Pumpkin (I used my own home-roasted pumpkin puree, yum)
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe Orange Cream Cheese Icing
  • Garnish= 6 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks (I used chocolate-dipped Vanilla Stix, but you could totally use chocolate-dipped Pumpkin Pocky) Orange Cream Cheese Icing:
  • (Makes about 1 cup)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 6-cavity mini-fluted tube pans with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine flour, pumpkin pie spices, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugars in large mixing bowl for 3 to 4 minutes, or until creamy.

Add eggs, beat well.

Add pumpkin and vanilla extract, beat well.

Gradually beat in flour mixture (do not overmix! Just mix until wet.) Spoon evenly into prepared cavities (about ½ cup batter in each). [Note: Here I used a pastry bag and piped the dough in – less mess, and easier to get consistent levels and layers of filling] Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in cakes comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; invert onto wire racks ot cool completely. With serrated knife, carefully cut off bottoms of each cake so surface is level/flat. (Tip: save the bottoms to enjoy later – and did I!)

Prepare Orange Cream Cheese Icing.

Spread 1 tablespoon icing over cut side of cake to within ½ inch of edge on your 6 uglier cakelingsot to avoid the edge, therefore cream cheese ‘bulge’. Oops] Reserve remaining icing. Place the 6 uniced cakes on top of cakes with icing, making cute little pumpkins. (Save the nicer ones for toppers); be sure to spread mixture over hole in center. [You’ll note that I totally forgot this step, hence a little frosting ‘bulge’ – oops.]

To serve: thin remaining icing by adding 2 Tablespoons milk; beat until smooth. the consistency should be thin enough to drizzle; add more milk as needed. Drizzle over cakes. Garnish with one cinnamon stick (or pocky) “stem” in the center of each “pumpkin”.

[At this point, I also sprinkled a little nutmeg on the top; cardamom would also be nifty.]

Construction was uneventful, although I did forget to keep the frosting contained (so there’s a visible layer between the top and bottom of the pumpkin, oops). I opted to forgo the cinnamon stick (as inedible) to serve as the stem, instead coating shards of vanilla stix (link) in chocolate and using those (although Pocky would work equally as well, and now they make pumpkin pocky! Win-win, there.). A little sprinkle of nutmeg over the glaze finishes it off for the pumpkins – I used cardamom on the cupcakes, which melded nicely with the other spices and pumpkin flavor. The orange in the glaze really worked well with the pumpkin – I usually find powdered-sugar based glazes too sweet, but just a little hint of citrus cuts that.

The pumpkin cake recipe itself was perfect – good pumpkin flavor, good crumb, without being too wet (although the cupcakes took longer to cook than usual – perhaps something to do with the silicon baking pan?). I’ll definitely use it again.

Cute and tasty! These disappeared quickly.