Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Philly's Finest: Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Oh luscious luscious cheesecake. You evil vixen you, so smooth and unassuming, just minding your own business atop a crumbling graham pedestal.

Oh luscious luscious cheesecake. You conspire to do us all in, inviting pumpkin to your otherworldly mix. Spreading lactose laced autumnal glory.

Oh luscious luscious cheesecake. Why so fickle? You crack and deface yourself if I step away for just a moment too long. Marring your beautiful surface with a fissure so gruesome I’ve no alternative but to start again and give you my slavish devotion.

Oh luscious luscious cheesecake. Why must I eat you in your entirety and suffer for the rest of the day in Philly fueled agony. Only to succumb again next time we cross paths.

Oh luscious luscious cheesecake. If I love you, I’ll let you go. I shall share your secrets with equally devout disciples so that they may indulge in your criminally insane caloric bacchanalia.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

Preheat oven to 325

8” to 10” springform pan. Bottom lined with parchment paper and sprayed liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

CRUST

2 ½ cups graham crackers pulverized to oblivion in a food processor (measure after pulverizing. Really. So much easier.)

1 stick butter melted

In a medium sized bowl, pour about half the melted butter over your graham “sand” and mix it up. It should hold together when you pinch a bit between your fingers but it should NOT be soggy. Add more butter if needed. Dump your graham mixture into your prepared springform and pat the crumbs firmly to form a nice bottom crust. You can use the flat bottom surface of a measuring cup to make this easier. Bake at 325 for 5 to 10 minutes. Put it aside while you make your batter.

BATTER


4 room temperature 8-ounce packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1 ½ cups brown sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon vanilla

finely grated rind of one orange (optional)

5 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons flour

In a stand mixer, whip cream cheese, mascarpone cheese and sugar until very smooth. Very very smooth. Add eggs one at a time and then yolks. Add pumpkin puree, spices and vanilla. When all of this is looking smooth and tasty, add flour until just combined. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and transfer to the oven CAREFULLY! Bake for 45 minutes and then LOWER the temperature to 225. And then bake for another 1 to 2 hours. Hey, it may take even longer. What you’ll want to do is shimmy the pan a little and see if your cheesecake is still wobbly. If it’s shaking like untoned arm fat, keep it going. If it gives just a little, just barely giving way in the manner of your belly when you suck it in when parading around in a bathing suit, you’re good to go. Take it out and let it rest. But do be patient. If you want a crackless cheesecake, it’s going to take a big chunk of your time and when it’s done perfectly, it’ll take a big chunk of your heart.

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