Holiday pumpkin cheesecake

Recipe and Photos for Ginger Pumpkin Cheesecake
with Thanks to Rose Levy Beranbaum

At some point I make a decision, subconscious or otherwise, that I’m not blogging, I’m not cooking, I’m just eating. And that’s what happened with the pumpkin cheesecake. I served it, we ate it, and then it was too late to take a photo of a slice, because my plate was empty.

Rose Levy Beranbaum’s pumpkin cheesecake has no spice, except for the ginger in the gingersnap crust. But there are no gingersnaps in Mexico. The basic ingredients — cream cheese, cream, eggs, sugar, and pumpkin — needed an accent. A teaspoon of Mexican vanilla and a heaping tablespoon of grated fresh ginger added the missing extra dimension. Now that I know what pumpkin cheesecake tastes like with vanilla and ginger, I wouldn’t make it any other way. Unless I wanted to try a cinnamon pumpkin cheesecake. Or a cardamom pumpkin cheesecake. But plain, without even vanilla? Never.

While I admire the beautifully decorated cheesecakes made by Rose and the Heavenly Cake Bakers, a decorated cheesecake was not what I was seeing with my mind’s eye or tasting with my mind’s palate. I know how puffs of whipped cream and lattices of carmelized sugar can be eye-appealing, but I didn’t want to add more sugar or fat. I wanted a pure cheesecake experience. I’m glad I didn’t add anything else, not even pecans, which would have detracted from the amazing smoothness and creaminess. The final result was a clean taste of pumpkin with a touch of cream and ginger.

Here is Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe if you would like to read the original. Add spices or not, but I recommend vanilla and fresh ginger. Otherwise, follow Rose’s recipe exactly, but not the method of baking. I recommend using cake strips instead of a water bath for ease of baking. This results in a very creamy cheesecake without the mess and bother of a large pan of near-boiling water in which to set the foil-wrapped springform pan.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Read through the recipe (scroll down to the recipe, titled “Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake”). Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. F. (180 deg. C).  Assemble and measure/weigh ingredients.

I had only 1/2 cup of frozen pumpkin puree left from a can brought from the U.S. A baked sweet potato in the fridge served to complete the one cup of pumpkin called for in the recipe. So really, to be honest, I made a Pumpkin Sweet Potato Cheesecake. If you are in Mexico, and it is winter, you will see the large calabazas in the stores. These can be cooked and pureed and used in any recipe calling for pumpkin puree.

Following the crumb crust recipe from Joy of Cooking, I used a store-bought package of vanilla cookies, substituting 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts for an equal amount of cookie crumbs. A large French jelly jar glass helped press the crumbs into a 9″ springform pan.

Rose cooks the pumpkin puree with sugar. I added one heaping tablespoon of grated fresh ginger, my new favorite flavor.

Pumpkin (with or without sweet potato), cream cheese, eggs, cream and one teaspoon of Mexican vanilla are blended in the food processor until very smooth.

Pour the mixture into a springform pan, already swathed in metallic fabric cake pan strips. The strips normally prevent a cake from doming in the center, but in this case they are used in lieu of a waterbath.

Thank goodness the cake pan strips work just as well to produce a creamy, tender cheesecake. I will never bake a cheesecake in a waterbath again.

This may be the first cheesecake I have baked that didn’t crack upon cooling. Not opening the oven even once, and then a gradual cooling in the turned-off oven (resist the temptation to open the oven, no matter how much you want to see that it hasn’t cracked) help the cheesecake cool slowly, preventing cracks.

Russ, my husband with the amazing sense of taste and culinary sense said, upon taking a bite, “This cheesecake is amazing. One of the best cheesecakes I’ve had in a long time.” I could eat this cheesecake every day, but more recipes await to be made and eaten.

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