December 7th, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake, cultured whipped cream

pumpkin cheesecake hero overhead

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.

gingersnap crust

Pumpkin Cheesecake Gingersnap-Pecan crust
12-14 Gingersnaps
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 mix

overn ready pumpkin cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
1 lb. cream cheese
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
3/4 cup Sugar
1 lb. pumpkin (one 15 oz. can works)
2 eggs
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.

another p-cheescake

cultured whipped cream

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.

Refrigerate overnight.

Before serving: Whip the cultured cream with confectioners sugar and vanilla.

Pipe or dollop onto the pumpkin cheesecake.

vertical pumpkin slice

Posted in Desserts, Recipes | 10 Comments »




December 17th, 2008

Savory Cheesecake

Cheesecake, that indulgent combo of cream cheese, eggs, and what-you-fancy, is a crowd-pleaser in all its guises. Everyone is familiar with the myriad sweet versions: New York original, chocolate, chocolate chip, strawberry, mocha…and no doubt, has a favorite.

But the cake’s savory sides are not as known.

I’ve had guests ask me, “This looks really good. What is it?”
and cock their heads with uncertainty when I say “It’s a Savory Cheesecake.”
When I explain that it’s got cream cheese, feta, artichoke hearts, green onions, fresh dillweed and oregano; just spread it on a cracker, Eyes Light Up.

This has all the right Big Party elements: rich Greek-inspired flavors and show-stopper looks, easy to make at a modest cost. One cake goes a long way—up to 50 guest’s worth of slathers on crackers—not to mention the yummy puff pastry crust.

Savory Cheesecake
2 lbs. softened cream cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup (or more) chopped artichoke hearts
3 minced garlic cloves
5 finely chopped scallions
2 Tablespoons fresh dillweed (2 t., if using dry)
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano (2 t., if using dry)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 eggs
pinch red pepper flakes
½ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 10 inchx15 inchpuff pastry sheet (you can use smaller sheets and piece together–the pastry
pieces easily.)
9 inch round springform pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line the bottom and sides of the springform pan with puff pastry.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the feta and cream cheeses.
Beat in the artichoke hearts, scallions, and minced garlic. Add herbs, salt and pepper.
Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl, mixing well.
Pour into pastry-lined springform pan and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool, then unmold.
Garnish with sundried tomatoes and fresh oregano or dill.
Serve at room temperature with crackers or crostini.

Caterer’s Tips: This can be made several days in advance and refrigerated. I have had success freezing it, ungarnished. For a holiday look, I used English ivy and clusters of nandina berries clipped from my backyard to garnish the platter.

Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Recipes | 9 Comments »