Wednesday, November 22, 2006

bourbon pumpkin cheesecake

bourbon pumpkin cheesecake

My sharp-eyed husband caught this bourbon pumpkin cheesecake recipe while I was — typically — flipping through a Gourmet magazine last year. Although it was a total hit at Thanksgiving, my fleeting recipe attention span struck again this year, but as I began hunting for a new and different fall-themed cheesecake it was made clear I’d still be welcome at the table with something else — just a little less so.

boubon pumpkin cheesecake

Like any good newlywed, last year I made two cakes — one for the family we would spend the afternoon with, and one for the family that had reserved our evening shift. I had intended to do the same this year until I realized that I’d left the base to one of my springform pans at my parents. Already having two batters and crumb crusts prepared, I cursed several times, refilled my wine glass and decided I’d try to make twelve cupcake-sized cheesecakes with the second batter. (Why oh WHY did I not buy these the fifteen times I have seen them at the store and fawned over them? The headaches $15 could have saved me!) While the full-sized cake looks lovely, the jury is still out on whether those cupcake cheesecakes are ever coming out of the pan, and it’s not looking very promising.

oh, i went there

The good news, however, is that is the remaining batter fit perfectly in a single 4.75-inch springform — no doubt purchased on impulse because it was sooo cuuute — I’d forgotten about which means we get both samples and pictures this year. I know it’s a little late in the game to change your dessert plans to this, and how arrogant for me to suggest that you should, but if you’re looking for that little something-something that will make your pumpkin cheesecake sing, that splash of bourbon (of course), crunching of ground pecans in the crust or even slightly sweetened sour cream topping could be used to juice up any recipe.

And now we make pie.

dollhouse serving

Cheesecake, previously: Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake, Key Lime Cheesecake, Nectarine, Mascarpone and Gingersnap Tart (almost no-bake!), Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares, Black-Bottomed Cupcakes (with a cheesecake filling) and Cream Cheese Marbled Brownies.

Update: “Deb, Help!” — I just never know when to say when, do I? I can’t help but notice the onslaught of Googling for “can I put vanilla in cranberry sauce” and “how long is gravy good for,” not to mention a slew of emails I’ve responded to this week, and, wel, well, I aim to please. If you run into a cooking question between now and oh, noon on Thanksgiving, drop me a comment and I’ll do my best to either respond to it or direct you to another person or site that can. I’m no expert, but hey, that’s never stopped me from mouthing off before. If you’re lucky, one of my much-smarter readers will chime in, too. Ask away!

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2003

Serves 12 to 14

For crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from five 4 3/4- by 2 1/4-inch crackers)
1/2 cup pecans (1 3/4 ounce), finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

For topping
2 cups sour cream (20 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)

Garnish: pecan halves

Make crust: Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter pan.

Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.

Make filling and bake cheesecake: Put oven rack in middle position and Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.

Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Make topping: Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 additional minutes.

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

Do ahead: Baked cheesecake can be chilled, covered, up to 2 days.


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