Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

1 Sep

Hello, there.

I am a little pie-obsessed lately.  Maybe a lot.  Maybe I spend an unnatural amount of time thinking about pies.  Maybe I sit on the train and stare out the window, imagining the offerings of the farmer’s market on Saturday, contemplating the challenge of a double-crust rhubarb pie.  Maybe I wonder at the feasibility of blackberry-swirled cheesecake as I walk through the library stacks en route to the American politics section.  Maybe I sit atop my bike at stop lights, perched somewhat unsteadily on the toes of one foot, imagining the cool sweetness of an icebox pie and the zest of lemon sticking to my fingers long after the pie is finished.

Can you blame me, though?  Especially with this recipe, although it is technically a cheesecake.  Apparently we are ushering autumn in early at the apartment with the bounty of pumpkin-related desserts we made yesterday.  I’m not complaining, just stating a fact.

I made this pumpkin cheesecake-pie hybrid (piebrid?), treating the cheesecake crust like pie crust and using a pie tin because I had no spring-form pan.  If you do this, please be warned, because the recipe makes more cheesecake than can fit in a pie tin.  We will solve this problem by making mini cheesecakes in the cupcake pan tomorrow, but if you just want the one cake, I would go for the 10-inch spring-form.

Adapted from the Magnolia cookbook

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin slop purée
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

It’s high time for pie time:

First, you must obliterate some cookies.

Haley and I put them in bags, smashed them into medium-sized chunks, and finished them off in a food processor until they became fine crumbs.

Combine the crumbs with the melted butter in a small bowl.

Press the crumbs into a buttered pie tin or spring-form pan.

Bake for 10 minutes at 325 degrees and then allow to cool.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.

Gradually add the sugars…

…and then the eggs, one at a time.

I safe-guarded the eggs while Haley whipped everything together in the mixing bowl.

Mix in the pumpkin purée until just combined.

Gross, right?  But it smells amazing.  Something I don’t understand, though, is why pumpkin purée is sold in such large quantities.  We made this cheesecake, and then we made pumpkin doughnut holes, and there’s still purée left over!  There’s only so much I can do with pumpkin.

Stir in the heavy cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Pour the batter into the pie tin/spring-form pan.

Bake for about one hour, or until the edges are set and the center jiggles just a bit when you shake it.  When it’s finished baking, turn the oven off and prop the over door open, allowing the cheesecake to cool for an hour.  Then, remove the cheesecake, cover it with plastic wrap, and transfer it to the fridge for chilling for 12 hours, or overnight.

It looks like a quiche, to me, which sort of weirded me out when I took it out of the fridge today. But it tastes absolutely delicious, and rather like a near-frigid autumn morning that’s so beautiful and idyllic you can’t possibly be put-out that you can’t feel your face.  A perfect day for apple picking, or pumpkin getting, or just walking very, very slowly down your street, scuffling the fallen leaves with a satisfying symphony of crunches and crackles.

The crust really brings this recipe together, providing a bite against the sweetness of the pumpkin and a crunch against the softness of the cheesecake.

For the whipped cream:

Throw all the ingredients together and whip like there’s no tomorrow.

You can, and probably will, use an electric mixer, but I have a new-found fondness for whipping by hand.  I talked about it with the banana cream pie, so I will restrain my odes to Whipping Heavy Cream by Hand.

Throw a bit of that on your slice of cheesecake-pie, and you are golden.

Now, let me tell you about the can of pumpkin purée.  In our infinite wisdom, my roommate and I neglected to get a can opener.  She doesn’t like canned food and I just wasn’t thinking, apparently.  Last year, when we lived in a dorm, our friends would just jab the cans with knives and pry the lid off.  Okay, so we tried that.

But the can started to damage the knives a bit.  So we got out the screwdriver and tried that.  No go.  Also, there was the fear of stabbing ourselves in the process.  Haley thought a hammer might do the trick, while I suggested scissors, so we each, with our implements, took a stab at it.

Literally.

The hammer was what did the trick.  After much weakening at the hands of the other tools we used, the hammer finally punched through, and Haley used the prongs on the back to pry enough of a hole open that we could let some purée ooze through.

Our kitchen looked like someone had murdered a pumpkin in it quite brutally, with purée splashed onto the toaster, the microwave, dribbled across the counter, sprayed onto the floor and the container of baking powder we had just bought.

But by God, we got it.  Eventually.

The tools we used in the opening of this can.

And for your book recommendation: I’ve been reading a lot of “multi-ethnic lit” for a class I’m taking (Multi-Ethnic Literature), trying to pre-emptively strike down my workload before school starts.  I’ve read Toni Morrison and Amina Gautier, both of whom were amazing and one of whom teaches at my school (not Toni Morrison).  But I’m going to recommend The Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri.  It’s a collection of short stores and a Nobel Prize winner, and it’s quite lovely.  The stories are very quiet, and weighty without being burdensome.  They don’t hang down over your head with Deep Meaning and Symbolism, but you can’t simply breeze through them without another thought.  They require contemplation, but no brain-spraining.  In summation, a very good book.

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