Pumpkin is an ingredient I get obsessed with this time of year. Its bright orange shell is such a relief during a season when color is fading away and the grey of winter is settling in. In fact, I am determined to paint a room the color of roasted pumpkin this year. But, my love of pumpkin goes beyond its mood lifting color, I adore its luscious texture, its ability to marry with both sweets and savory, and its earthy sweetness. I’ve heard there are folks that don’t share my enthusiasm for this gorgeously colored gourd, but I’ll eat roasted pumpkin with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt. It is even more wonderful in desserts; pumpkin creme brulee, classic pie, breads and cheesecake. When it is pureed smooth, it has a custard like texture, so it lends itself beautifully to this silky pumpkin cheesecake. For a contrast to the velvety cheesecake, I’ve added candied almond crunch and a dollop of Amaretto whipped cream.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 9 crackers)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 can or 15 ounces pureed roasted pumpkin
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raw slivered almonds
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon egg white
Amaretto whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipped cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon Amaretto
To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F
Grease an 8×8-inch square cake pan and line with parchment.
In a food processor, mix together the graham crackers, brown sugar, salt and butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press it out in an even layer. Bake for about 12 minutes, until it starts to color. Let cool on a rack.
In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed with the paddle attachment for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and mix for another 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and mix for about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each. Add the pumpkin, sour cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Mix for 30 seconds.
Pour the cheesecake mixture onto the cooled crust. Place the cheesecake in the oven on a cookie sheet that has about a 1/4-inch hot water in it. This will help the cheesecake bake evenly and have a silky texture. Turn the oven down to 325°F and bake for about an hour or until it is just set in the middle. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
To make the almond crunch topping:
Preheat oven to 350°F
Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
In a bowl mix together the almonds, sugar, salt, zest, and egg white.
Spread the almond mixture onto the cookie sheet and bake for about 1o minutes. With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir the almonds, so the edges don’t get too much color. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until golden brown. Let the crunch cool completely and then break into small pieces.
To serve the cheesecake:
Using a sharp, thin bladed knife dipped in hot water, cut the cheesecake into 16 pieces.
Whip the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar and Amaretto until medium peaks.
Serve the cheesecake with the whipped cream and
Almond crunch and I found these tasty figs at the co-op.
Since pumpkin is full of vitamins, fiber, and omega-3s, I think it makes a great breakfast snack for my boys.