Tag Archives: pumpkin

In defense of November

Um, hey, Christmas? Yeah, I know your busy and all but…November called. He kinda wants his month back. You know, if it’s not too much trouble. K? Thanks.

Does anyone else feel a little sad for our old friend November? I mean, he’s kinda had his identity stolen. Somewhere along the long and winding road of recent history, November got all swallowed up by December and it’s big noise-maker Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season. The shopping, giving, tree-trimming, baking, wrapping, and caroling is all and well and good. But I like those things…in DECEMBER! I don’t know who decided it was okay for Christmas to steal the thunder from November but I really think he deserves a second chance to stand on his own two feet.

Anybody remember Thanksgiving? Yeah, you know that holiday that’s supposed to come BEFORE Christmas. That’s only been happening in November since, well…forever and we’ve all but forgot about it in favor of Christmas. Think about all the great things Thanksgiving has to offer. Family. Food!! A time for remembrance, reflection and gratefulness. Your first full day off work since Labor Day and there’s TWO of them?! Hello. Awesome.

Here’s a recipe that’s pure November. Forget about December’s candy canes, sugar cookies and eggnog for a second and remember our good pal Pumpkin. Sure, sure pumpkin pie is the star of the Thanksgiving dessert table but this here’s a recipe for another November day. Like say the Saturday after Thanksgiving. You’ve probably already inhaled the last of the pie at 5:00 a.m. the morning before on your way out to hit up the Black Friday sales. These Pumpkin Cheesecake Crumble Squares are the perfect accompaniment to an after Thanksgiving gathering of friends or a family game night. They’re a snap to make and even easier to eat. With they’re creamy, dreamy, spicy pumpkin filling, tangy sour cream topping and crunchy oat crumble, you’ll be begging November to stick around.

As noted in the reviews of the original recipe, the crust/crumble portion of the recipe seems a bit off proportion-wise for a 9×9 inch pan. I made all of it and did end up with some leftover even after topping my squares. If you are a super math whiz, you may want to reduce the crust recipe by a fourth or so. I’m mentally incapable of doing that sort of thing (true story) so I’ll just go ahead and leave that up to you. 😉 Full recipe appears below.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE CRUMBLE SQUARES (Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit, October 2006 via Epicurious.com)

For the crust:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 cup pecan halves (about 4 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
For the filling:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
For the topping:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS:
Prepare the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
  2. Pulse first 4 ingredients in processor until coarse meal forms. Add pecans; pulse until nuts are chopped. Add oats; pulse until mixture is moistened but not clumping. Press about 3/4 of crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared square pan (do not clean processor). Transfer remaining crumbs to lined baking sheet. Bake crumbs on sheet until golden, stirring once, about 10 minutes. Cool crumbs. Bake crust until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.
Prepare the filling:
  1. Blend all the filling ingredients in same processor until smooth. Spread filling over warm crust; bake until set, dry in center, and beginning to rise at edges, about 20 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Prepare topping:
  1. Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Spread evenly over hot filling. Bake until topping sets and bubbles at edges, about 5 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Sprinkle reserved crumbs over topping; gently press into topping. Cover; chill until cold and set, about 2 hours. Can be made up to 2 days before serving. Keep chilled. Cut into squares. Makes 16 servings.
ENJOY!
One Year Ago: Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Cake. Uh, want. In my face. Now.
Two Years Ago: I got nothin’. NaNo was consuming me.

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Filed under cheesecake, desserts, pumpkin

Celebrate Good Times, Come ON!

How do I celebrate good times, you ask? Why, with cheesecake, of course! Isn’t that what you celebrate with? If not, it should be….what’s not to love about cheesecake? Except for maybe the unfortunate side effects on bellies, hips, butts and thighs nationwide. That part is not so good. Meh….we’ll worry about that later.

So WHAT am I celebrating, you may ask? It’s the middle of September so no major holidays coming up. Both our birthdays are in June, so it’s not that. Our anniversary is in May, that’s long past. No one is pregnant, got a huge raise at work, or won the lottery. What’s left??

Actually, this weekend I’m celebrating me. I’m celebrating my life and all the fantastic people in it. What better way to celebrate me then to surprise myself with my favorite dessert! “Aw, Self, that’s so sweet! You shouldn’t have…really, this is too much. Oh no, I simply couldn’t…well, maybe just a couple bites. Thank you self, for being so good to myself….”

Okay, so that’s pretty silly….but honestly, for some reason, I just felt like celebrating this weekend! This year has been a little difficult for me. I went from working a ridiculous amount each week to not working at all in a matter of 24 hours. When I was let go from my previous position, I was so let down and disappointed in myself. I was probably the only one who didn’t see it coming. How embarrassing. How could I have let that happen? What the hell is wrong with me? I carried that anger and disappointment around with me all summer long. I felt like a failure. As recently as three weeks ago, I was up in the middle of the night still crying about what happened. I just couldn’t let it go, couldn’t shake all the negative things I felt about myself.

Well, I am pleased to say that I am FINALLY letting all that go. I am so thrilled that my new job is working out so well, that I can go home each night knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life that day. I made a tough day a little bit more bearable for someone right here in our community. I am so thrilled that I can look back at everything and know I’ve learned a lot about myself and what’s really important in life. Great family, good friends, and good food. Ha…well, the good food part is important to me at least. It’s comforting to know that I can confidently say I am not destined for so-called great things….six figure salaries, corner offices, my name on the door….but it’s okay because I have great people who support me no matter what. Eric and I are happy. We don’t have to go without. This little life we’ve started together just keeps getting better. And now that I am finally at peace with my life outside our home, I can concentrate on celebrating all the little things that make my life great! 🙂

So, in honor of my new found peace and happiness, I decided to celebrate by making my very first cheesecake! I LOVE cheesecake. So bad, but oh so good. I hadn’t had the courage to tackle it at home…until now! The wind was blowing and the rain was falling this weekend…the perfect weather for a fall favorite…PUMPKIN!

Now, for a long time, I was never really that thrilled with anything pumpkin. Probably because the only way I ever had it was in pie form and….eh….I don’t know…it’s just okay for me. Not awful, I’ll eat it, but it’s not my absolute favorite. I decided that it’s not the flavor that bothers me when it comes to pumpkin pie, but the texture. So I thought I might enjoy the flavors of pumpkin more if it were in cheesecake form. Eric really likes pumpkin…and he REALLY, REALLY likes cheesecake. So this pumpkin cheesecake was right up his alley.

The results: Fan-freakin’-tastic! Perfect creamy texture. Great flavor. I loved the ginger cookies in the crust. I was pleased with how it turned out. It only cracked a teeny bit on top. Not bad for my first try!

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE (Recipe Source: Joyofbaking.com)

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

1 cup (100 grams) graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cups (50 grams) finely ground ginger cookies, homemade or store bought

1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar

4 – 5 tablespoons (56 – 60 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake:

2/3 cup (145 grams) light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound (454 grams) cream cheese, room temperature

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup pure pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)

Topping:

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.  Butter (or spray with a non stick spray) an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan.
  2. For Crust:  In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, finely ground ginger snap cookies, sugar, and melted butter.  Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared spring form pan.  Cover and refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling.
  3. For Cheesecake:  In a separate bowl, stir to combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), on low speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth (about 2 minutes).  Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until creamy and smooth (1 to 2 minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree.
  5. Pour the filling over the chilled ginger crust and place the spring form pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips.  Place a cake pan, filled halfway with hot water, on the bottom shelf of your oven to moisten the air.  Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees C (165 degrees C) and continue to bake the cheesecake for another 10 – 20 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake are puffed but the center is still wet and jiggles when you gently shake the pan.
  6. Meanwhile whisk together the sour cream, vanilla extract and sugar.  Pour the sour cream mixture over the top of the baked cheesecake and rotate the pan slightly to evenly distribute the topping.  Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake about 8 minutes to set the topping.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Loosen the cake from the pan by running a sharp knife around the inside edge (this will help prevent the cake from cracking).  Then place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan so the cheesecake will cool slowly.  When completely cooled, cover and refrigerate at least eight hours, preferably overnight, before serving.

Serves 10-12 people.

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Filed under desserts, fruit