My darlin’ isn’t a fan of cake. Which I find hard to believe, but he’s not. Whether it be coconut cake, chocolate cake, carrot cake, fun-fetti cake, if it has frosting on it he’s just not that into it. I on the other hand have quite a taste for cakes and their frosting. My affinity for such sweet confections, I believe, comes from childhood nostalgia for birthday cakes. Even if they come from the grocery store, the frosting stains your mouth blue, and I know its made with nothing but corn products, if its around I still want to have at least a bite for old times sake. But despite our differences in desirable cakes there is one type of cake we can agree on – Cheesecake!! And if its made with pumpkin, gingersnaps, and marshmallows even better. So, when our two year anniversary rolled around and I wanted to give something to to my boyfriend who doesn’t want more things, but loves good food, I figured a cheesecake would be the perfect gift. Plus, it was just a good excuse to make a cake. I’m always on the look out for an excuse to bake, I feel guilty baking a whole cake or dessert just for lil’ole me.
At the last Farmer’s Market I stocked up on pie pumpkins, buying at least 7 1-3 pounders. They cheerfully decorated our living room for a few weeks. My plan was to bake them all up one day, put them through the food grinder, freeze it, and then I’d have plenty of pumpkin to last me through the winter if not longer. If you have never used fresh pumpkin for your pumpkin desserts then you are really missing out! They bring so much more pumpkin flavor to your pies, muffins, and cakes than canned pumpkin could even dream of doing. And its no harder than some cutting, scooping, waiting, and mashing.
So here we have a cooked pumpkin half that. To get here you simply slice through the middle of the pumpkin with a sharp knife, scoop out the seeds (save to make toasted pumpkin seeds, delicious for snacking), place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F until tender, about 1 hour (more or less depending on size).
Last but not least, if your puree is pretty watery drain the pumpkin. For lack of something better I took my sifter, lined it with a paper towel, spooned in pumpkin, and then used the back of the spoon to push out excess water. Then you’ll have 2-4 cups of pumpkin puree (depending on size of pumpkin) ready to go right away or freeze for later.Gingersnap and pecan crust!
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Marshamallow-Sour Cream Topping and Gingersnap Crust
Bon Appetit November 2008
Best if made a day ahead, or at least in the morning if its for that night, so it has time to set up in the fridge. The texture is much smoother, and creamier after its been allowed to set for a few hours.
2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 9 oz.)
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup golden brown sugar (I just use whatever brown sugar I’ve got)
2 T chopped crystallized ginger (not always necessary, if you haven’t got it)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree (or one 15-oz can pure pumpkin)
5 large eggs
3 T flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice (I just add a little cloves, and a bit more of the other spices instead)
1/4 tsp salt
2 T vanilla extract
2 cups mini marshmallows, or large torn into small pieces
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
To make crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-in. spring-form pan with cooking spray. Grind cookie crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, and ginger in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Add melted butter, pulsing to blend. Pour into pan and press into bottom and up the sides. Bake until crust is set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool completely.
To make filling:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with a mizer until light and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin. Add eggs one at a time, beating on low speed to incorporate each addition. Add flour, spices, and salt; beat just to blend. Beat in vanilla. Transfer filling to cooled crust. Place spring form pan on a baking sheet in case it drips. Bake until filling is set in the center and edges begin to crack (filling will move slightly when pan is shaken gently) about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool 1 hour. Run knife around edges ( a plastic knife won’t scratch your pan) to release crust. Chill cheesecake uncovered overnight.
To make topping:
Stir marshmallows and milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat and stir vanilla and salt. Cool marshmallow mixture to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Add sour cream to marshmallow mixture; fold gently just to blend. Pour topping over cheesecake and spread evenly, leaving 1/2 inch edge. Chill to set topping, at least 1 hour.