Wait wait wait! I’ve lived in the desert for almost three years and my body still craves fall weather. I can’t fight it. My internal clock knows that it’s time for the leaves to change colors and fall from the trees, for rainy and cloudy nights, colder weather and sweaters, to watch Charlie Brown’s It’s the Great Pumpkin and scary movie marathons, and earthy and robust flavors of seasonal produce.
October produce: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, parsnips, apples, and cranberries are in their peak. I’ve prepared other squash but only pumpkin a few times. I forgot how much work it is to clean a pumpkin of its stringy fibers and slimy seeds. It took me about thirty – forty minutes to get to the almost sweet and earthy flavor flesh that would eventually be roasted, pureed, and mixed into a cheesecake batter.
A small 2 lb. pumpkin yielded about 50 seeds and more puree than I knew what to do with. It really wasn’t worth the effort. Growing up I remember my mom using Libby’s pure pumpkin because it has just as good of flavor as a freshly roasted pumpkin flesh and it’s a lot easier to work with.
My pumpkin cheesecake recipe is pretty simple and straightforward. On Food and Cooking by Harold Mcgee, Mcgee considers cheesecake to be a custard and that it should be mixed slowly, baked gently, and transitioned from hot, warm,and cool slowly.
To make a pumpkin cheesecake first preheat oven to 325°F. Take two individual pie tins, or 1 springform pan, and press down the crust. Crust is made by grinding 15 graham crackers, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, a handful of pecans, and a teaspoon of cinnamon. When the dry ingredients are ground up pour enough melted butter to make a paste. Mold the pans with the paste like mixture and bake for 5 minutes.
In the meantime make your batter by lightly mixing 2 oz of mascarpone, 6 oz of pumpkin puree (Libby's Pure Pumpkin NOT the pie filling) and 4 tablespoons of sugar until its smooth. Whisk 1 large whole egg, 1 large yolk, 1 teaspoon of corn starch, and a splash of cream together - for creamier and tender effects add extra yolks. Fold the whisked eggs into the smooth mixture and lightly mix a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon juice until the batter is completely smooth.
Fill the pie tins with the batter and bake in a water bath at 325°F for about 30- 35 minutes. Turn off the oven, crack the door, and keep the cheesecake in there for another 10-15 minutes or until the center is slightly firm. Chill before serving. Top with whipped cream before serving. Delicious!
It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Chapters 1 -3