I am sure that many of you, at least those in the States, are getting ready for various Thanksgiving celebrations (no? too early?), so I am offering some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. This is a new one that I tried out, a really nice and subtle pumpkin cheesecake. Some of my tasters found the pumpkin flavor a little too subtle, truth be told, but I reminded them that this is a cheesecake, and not pumpkin pie. I adapted this recipe from Emeril, and although it can easily be found here, I will include it in the extended post, as payback for the years I've had to suffer whilst accidentally coming across his many programs on the Food Network
The nice thing is this cake must be made in advance - up to 4 days in advance - so you won't have anything to worry about while you're getting everything else ready. This recipe comes together easily in a large food processor; I haven't tried it in a mixer with a whisk attachment, but I'm sure it would work as long as your cream cheese was very soft.
Pumpkin Cheesecake - 12 servings, adapted from Emeril Lagasse
For the crust:
3/4 box (12 ounces) Nilla wafers
1 cup pecan halves
1 stick butter, melted
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 inch springform pan with cooking spray and set aside. Place the Nilla wafers and the pecans in a food processor and grind until they form coarse crumbs. Place in a bowl and slowly add the butter while mixing with your hands. As soon as you can pack the mixture without it falling apart, it is ready; press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the mixture is firm. Place in the refrigerator until cool.
For the filling:
2 pounds cream cheese, softened (I like to leave it out overnight, just to be sure)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder (or a dash each powdered anise, cardamom, white pepper, fennel and a little extra cinnamon)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups pumpkin puree
Place the cream cheese in food processor and blend until smooth. Add the sugar and blend until smooth; scrape down sides of bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure they are thoroughly blended before adding another. Add the heavy cream. Add the flour, cinnamon, five spice and salt; blend. Add the vanilla. Add the pumpkin and blend completely, scraping down the sides and making sure there are no lumps. Spray the pan, with the pre-baked crust, again with cooking spray. Pour the mixture (it will be pretty liquid) into the pan and place in the middle of the preheated oven. Bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes, checking frequently after 1 hour. The cake is finished when it is browning around the edges and top, and is mostly set; the center might still be slightly wobbly. Remove from the oven and carefully cut around the edges of the cake with a very sharp knife; this will prevent the cake from cracking as it cools. Cool completely, 6 hours or overnight, and enjoy!
For the Bourbon Chocolate sauce:
1/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 ounces bourbon
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chip pieces
Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside. Bring the corn syrup, heavy cream and bourbon to a bare simmer over medium heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir gently until melted and serve over cheesecake (this will harden slightly as it cools, so it's best made just before serving; however, you can reheat it on low power in the microwave).