I adore pumpkin, I really do. I use it in sweet as well as savoury dishes, but until this year I have never eaten pumpkin cheesecake. So, this November I decided to bake my first one. I made beautiful puree, I bought fresh curd cheese which I minced myself *, but... it wasn't a great success. It was bland and tasted like...hmm...pumpkin. It's not a cake for me I thought.
But I knew that I would have to give this cake another chance ( I had got a lot of pumpkin puree which I wanted utilize because I didn't have more room in my freezer). And I did. I baked the most delicious pumpkin cheesecake. I think, I can say it right now although I have tasted only two of them in my entire life ;)
This one I made from mascarpone cheese. I had it in a fridge and I was not in mood to go shopping for curd cheese anymore. I was a little bit afraid that something would be wrong because I had read that cheesecakes made from mascarpone are unpredictable. They like rise too much in an oven and collapse and crack after. But I was very surprised how good it behaved. And how good it turned out to be. Light and creamy - almost like a mousse. I definitely will bake another cheesecake with mascarpone soon.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with White Chocolate :
1 cake 18 cm / 7 1/4 inches in diameter, serves: 8 -10
150 gram (approx. 5 1/3 oz.) digestive biscuits (crushed)**
50 gram ( 1 3/4 oz.) finely ground almonds
85 gram (3/4 stick) melted unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
( all ingredients at room temperature)
500 gram ( approx. 17 1/2 oz.) cream cheese
300 gram (approx. 10 1/2 oz) pumpkin puree
100 gram (approx. 3 1/2 oz) good quality white chocolate, melted ( I used one with natural vanilla)
3 medium eggs (I used organic eggs)
70 gram (approx. 2 1/2 oz.)sugar (I used unrefined light muscovado - I like to use it because of its creamy toffee fudge flavour)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. mix spice
2 Tbsp. whisky (or brandy)***
1 Tbsp. orange peel (I used homemade candied orange peel very thinly chopped)
Oven to 180 C ( 355 F).
Grease a bottom and sides of a springform pan (I baked my cheesecake in 18 cm / 7 1/4 inches pan because I wanted it to be tall (about 5 cm/ 2 inches). If you want shorter cheesecake use bigger pan, but keep in mind that you will need more crust than ). In a bowl combine all ingredients for a crust. Squeeze a bit of mixture in your hand to make a little ball - it should hold its shape, but also fall apart when touched slightly. If it doesn't hold its shape - add more butter, if it holds its shape too well - add more biscuits, otherwise the crust will be too hard.Use your hand to press the crust onto the bottom and about 2 cm (3/4 inch) up the sides of pan. Wrap the outer side of the bottom and sides of the pan in aluminium foil to prevent butter from leaking out. Place the pan in the oven for 15 min.
Put the white chocolate in a small heatproof bowl which fits over top of a pan of gently simmering (not boiling!) water. Stir until smooth and leave to cool slightly.
Place the cream cheese and sugar in a mixer bowl and mix on a low speed with a paddle for about two minutes scraping down a bowl to avoid lumps. Be careful not to overmix and incorporate too much air. Stir the melted chocolate into the cream cheese, then add the eggs gradually (one at a time) beating well for about 30 sec. after each addition. In separate bowl combine the pumpkin puree, spices, orange peel and whisky***. Add the mixture to the cream cheese stirring only long enough to combine.
Poured the filling into the pan with the pre-baked crust. Place the pan in the oven and bake in 180 C (355 F) for 15 min than lower the temp. to 120 C (250 F) and bake for about 80 - 90 min or until the filling is set. To avoid overbaking, keep an eye on it and check by gently shake the form - the cheesecake is done when is firm and only small area in the center remain wet and wobbly . Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside for 20 min. with a door slightly ajar.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and put on a wire rack. Run a thin knife around the inside edge of the pan to prevent the cheesecake from sticking to sides and cracking when it cools, but leave it in the pan at room temperature until completely cool. Refrigerate overnight or at least several hours.
In my opinion this cheesecake doesn't need any topping, so I served it with a dollop of whipped cream and a little bit of orange and ginger conserve. This cheesecake develops its flavour with time - for me it is the best after two days in fridge, but - who would like to wait so long....
Inspiration - recipe adapted from Bo Friberg "The professional pastry chef".
I have never had a problem with cracked and collapsed cheesecake since I read here how to bake it.
* in Poland where I come from, the most popular cheesecake is made from curd cheese, which you can buy already minced or mince yourself at home in a meat mincer or food processor - the cheesecake made this way is dense and rich with slightly coarse texture. Very delicious.
**I don't remember when I bought cookies last time. I prefer make them myself. But I make exception when I bake a cheesecake because I like this salty-sweet taste which digestive biscuits have.
*** whisky is not noticeable in the baked cheesecake, but I think you can omit it without changing its taste e.g. when baking for kids.