Thursday, October 30, 2008

recipes: autumn indulgence

this pumpkin cheesecake has become an instant classic and soon-to-be thanksgiving staple in our household. it has the consistency and tanginess of cheesecake with the flavor and spiciness of pumpkin pie. to cut calories, i made this with half low-fat cream cheese and half non-fat cream cheese. the initial high-temp cooking phase seems to help limit cracking, and bringing all the ingredients up to room temp helps a lot too. i was not a big fan of the pecan-graham crust (be very careful - that crust burns FAST at 500 degrees!), so the second time i just made a regular graham cracker crust (1 pkg (1 1/2 cups) graham crackers, finely crushed; 1/4 cup sugar; 1/4 cup butter, melted; combine, press into pan and bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes). i also did not make the pecan praline topping, mostly because i was too impatient, but i think i prefer it simple with just whipped cream (and, really, pumpkin cheesecake isn't rich enough already?).

the big problem with this cheesecake is that it takes 5 hours to prepare - 2 hours to dry out the pumpkin, about 30 minutes of actual prep, and 3 hours of baking... PLUS the usual overnight chilling for any cheesecake. i found it worthwhile, but it definitely requires some planning. in the future, i will probably make two at a time and spread the wealth. it is a lot of effort for just one cheesecake, and pumpkin often comes in 29 oz cans, whereas the recipe only calls for 15 oz. i did find a quick alternative, but i haven't tested it yet. it is really quick - no bake, in fact. my guess is that it will be more like pumpkin pie and less like cheesecake.

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