Bill always wants a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Never before, and rarely after the big feast, and yet it is a dessert that he looks forward to eating with gusto. This year, in a move to enliven tradition, I chose to make this pumpkin treat instead.
While it is a cheesecake, it doesn’t have the same heft, that ponderous commitment to dessert that defines cheesecake. This one has all the spiciness of pumpkin pie, with the cream cheese imparting a nice tang. The gingersnap-pecan crust, simple to make, adds a distinctive crunch.
The best part, however, is the cultured whipped cream. It’s part creme fraiche, part mascarpone, totally divine.
And, one of those happy accidents.
My original intention was to make creme fraiche, but I got started a day late. After stirring in the buttermilk, I waited a bit, and on a whim decided to stir in some fresh clementine juice. (Hurray, the clementines are here!)
Overnight, the mix thickened somewhat, but acquired a more complicated and pleasing flavor–slightly sour, slightly citrus.
It whipped up beautifully, sweetened with a little confectioners sugar, and made a stunning accent on the pumpkin cheesecake.
Verdict: Enjoyed by all. Even Bill approved of the little change-up.
And, while we may or may not see pumpkin in some sweet form until next year, the cultured whipped cream will be showing up with another delectable dessert soon. Very soon.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Gingersnap-Pecan crust
1 cup Toasted Pecans
2 T. melted Butter
In a food processor fitted with a swivel blade, pulse the gingersnaps and pecans together. Mix with melted butter in a bowl, and press into a 9″springform pan. Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove and cool.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
1 lb. cream cheese
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
3/4 cup Sugar
1 lb. pumpkin (one 15 oz. can works)
1 t. Vanilla
1 t. Ginger
1 t. Nutmeg
1/2 t. Cinnamon
1/2 t. ground Cloves
1/4 t. Salt
a pinch or 2 White Pepper
In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugars with the cream cheese. (I used a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the whisk attachment.) When smooth, add the pumpkin and continue mixing. Then add the eggs, vanilla, and all the spices. Whip until smooth and fluffy.
Pour into springform pan and place in the center of a 350 degree oven. Fill a baking dish with water and set on the rack underneath the cheesecake.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until knife comes clean. Cool, then refrigerate.
Decorate with cultured whipped cream and pecans before serving.
Serves 12 or more.
Cultured Whipped Cream
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Buttermilk
1 Tablespoon Clementine Juice (or orange/tangerine)
4 Tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
Pour heavy cream into a glass bowl and stir in the buttermilk. Let this sit out for about an hour, and occasionally give it a stir.
Then, stir in the clementine (or whatever citrus you fancy) juice.
Again, let this sit out for an hour or so, stirring occasionally.
Before serving: Whip the cultured cream with confectioners sugar and vanilla.
Pipe or dollop onto the pumpkin cheesecake.