Welcome to the latest installment of Heavenly Cake Bakers. Today's feature, Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
This is the lightest cheesecake I've ever tasted - almost mousse-like... and it's so soft and creamy that it's more like pudding than traditional cheesecake. How something so soft and creamy can keeps it's cheesecake-like shape is beyond my comprehension - leave it to Rose to figure out how!
This cheesecake features a crust made of gingersnaps, pecans, butter, salt, and sugar.
The filling is slightly nontraditional as it starts with pure pumpkin puree that is cooked with turbinado sugar to thicken the puree and intensify the flavor.
This process only takes a few minutes. I was quite surprised how quickly the turbinado sugar dissolved in the pumpkin puree.
The hot pumpkin mixture is then pureed in the food processor for a minute before adding heavy cream, room temperature cream cheese, and eggs. The food processor mixes the ingredients very quickly. Only one caveat...
Be sure you have a large food processor. The work bowl of my 11-cup Cuisinart wasn't large enough to handle the mixture without overflowing slightly. I had a feeling this was going to happen so I was able to transfer my batter into my pan quickly - otherwise the mess would have been much worse.
Next time I'll either mix the batter in my KitchenAid stand mixer using my favorite new BeaterBlade attachment, or possibly mix the batter in a blender, being careful to incorporate as little air into the batter as possible.
The cheesecake batter is then poured into the 9-inch springform pan which is either wrapped with a double layer of heavy duty foil, or better yet, is placed neatly inside a 9.5 or 10-inch silicone cake pan. I normally despise water baths, but the silicone pan made this process fool-proof, and it was so much easier than messing with foil. The silicone pan is then placed into a 12-inch cake pan or large roasting pan, and the outermost pan is then filled with 1-inch of very hot water. I happen to have a couple of 12-inch cake pans in the house - so nice to be able to use them for something other than baking 12-inch cakes.
The cheesecake is baked for 45 minutes before turning off the oven and letting the cheesecake rest for an additional hour before removing it from the oven to cool at room temperature for yet another hour, and lastly, chilling in the fridge overnight.
Before serving on day 2, a caramel glaze, which can be made up to 3 days in advance, is drizzled on the surface.
To make the caramel glaze, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a sauce pan over med heat. Note to Heavenly Bakers - I used Lyle's Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup - Rose says they are interchangeable and I prefer the flavor of Lyle's.
It's really hard to check the temperature of such a small amount of sugar syrup, so tilting the pan and holding the candy thermometer backwards every few minutes helped me monitor the caramel.
We're almost there... once we get to this color things start moving along quickly, so just another few seconds.
Here we are at exactly 360F. Quickly remove from the heat and add the cream to stop the cooking process and prevent the caramel from burning.
Stir, stir, stir - then add the butter and stir some more.
Pour caramel into a greased glass measure and allow to cool for 3 minutes before adding pure vanilla extract; stir to combine.
I still managed to pull out my piping bag - these swirls of whipped cream were piped with a large tip and the swirls were dotted with pecans before drizzling the caramel glaze. I wish I would have thought to drizzle the glaze before adding the whipped cream (don't like the ends of the glaze stripes showing.
My husband absolutely loved this cheesecake. I thought it was extremely delicious, but in my mind, cheesecake should be a bit less light and silky, and a bit more heavy and substantial. If you're on the lookout for a light and silky cheesecake, you really must give this one a try!
Rose has graciously posted this recipe on her blog, so I'm happy to share it with you. Here it is.
Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap and Pecan Crust
Makes one 9-inch cheesecake (12 servings)
For the Crust:
4 1/4 ounces gingersnap cookies, broken into pieces
2 ounces (1/2 cup) pecans, toasted
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 pinches table salt
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (Rose recommends Libby's)
1 cup granulated sugar or turbinado sugar
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
For the Caramel Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream, heated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Garnish:
24 toasted pecans
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x2½-inch or higher springform pan. Wrap the pan in a double-layer of heavy duty aluminum foil (the kind that comes in the 17" width) to keep the cheesecake dry while it bakes in the water bath.
Make the crust:
In a food processor, process the ginger snaps, pecans, sugar, salt, and cinnamon (if using) until the cookies become fine crumbs, about 20 seconds.
Add the melted butter and pulse just until incorporated.
Use a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and part-way up the sides of the prepared springform pan.
Cover the crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
Make the filling:
In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir the pumpkin puree and sugar together.
Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer, stirring constantly for about 5 min.
Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has darkened and thickened to the consistency of applesauce, about 5 min.
Scrape the mixture into a large food processor and process for 1 minute with the feed tube open so the steam can escape, scraping down the sides if needed.
With the motor running, add the chilled cream.
Add the softened cream cheese and process for 30 seconds or until smoothly incorporated, scraping down the sides two or three times.
Add the eggs and yolks and process for about 5 seconds or just until incorporated.
Bake the cheesecake:
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan.
Set the pan in a larger pan (a 12x2-inch cake pan or a roasting pan) and surround it with 1 inch of very hot water.
Check that the oven temperature is 350°F and bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes.
Turn off the oven without opening the door and let the cheesecake cool for 1 hour.
Transfer the cake to a rack (the center will still be jiggly) and cool to room temperature for about 1 hour.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Make the caramel:
In a med heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat, stir together the sugar, syrup, and the water until the sugar dissolves and the mixture bubbles (stir constantly).
Stop stirring and allow the syrup to boil continue boiling until it turns a deep amber and reaches 360F.
Immediately remove the caramel from the heat and carefully pour the hot cream into it (the mixture will bubble furiously).
Use a high temperature spatula to stir the mixture until smooth, scraping the thicker part that settles on the bottom.
If any lumps develop, return the pan to the heat and stir until they dissolve.
Stir in the butter. The mixture will be streaky but become uniform after cooling slightly and stirring; rest for 3 minutes.
Gently stir in the vanilla extract.
Cool to room temperature before drizzling on cheesecake.
Unmold, garnish, and slice:
Be sure the cheesecake is thoroughly chilled.
Have ready a serving plate and another flat plate or clean plastic cutting board that's at least as wide as the springform and covered in plastic wrap.
Wipe a hot, damp cloth around the outside of the ring (or use a hair dryer).
Run a metal spatula or a thin knife inside the ring.
Release and gently loosen the ring and then lift it off.
Set the plate with the plastic wrap on top of the cheesecake and carefully invert the pan.
Heat the base of the springform with a hot, damp cloth or hair dryer and lift it off.
Set the serving plate lightly on the bottom of the cheesecake (which is now facing up) and reinvert the cake.
Lift off the plastic-wrapped plate.
Arrange the pecan halves around the perimeter of the cake.
To cut neat slices, dip thin-bladed knife in hot water and dry with a towel between each slice.