Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping

Since it would be sacrilegious to omit pumpkin pie and pecan pie from a dessert buffet at Thanksgiving their places of honor were reserved on ours.  But Thanksgiving is such an opportunistic time to try new desserts.  There is so much to do with pumpkin!  I tried three new recipes this year and the one I’m sharing with you today is a Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping.

This recipe hails from Gourmet magazine.  Date unknown.  It's a gastronomic shame that this great food magazine met it's demise two years ago.  I started reading Gourmet when I was in junior high school during the late 1960’s.  Gourmet was not simply my introduction to food from all over the world but the food journalists transported me to all of those remote places as well.

I have always gravitated to authors whose writings center around food.  One of my favorite food writers is Ruth Reichl.  She was the last Editor in Chief of Gourmet  when the magazine shut down in November of 2009.   I highly recommend any of her books.  Okay, on to the recipe.

Although the recipe has 3 different stages, it is really a simple recipe to make.

First you’ll make the crust with finely ground graham cracker crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, granualted sugar and butter.

I recommend boxed Keebler graham cracker crumbs.  I’ve tried processing my own from whole graham crackers and it just does not come out for me.  The recipe also calls for finely chopped pecans.  I ground mine in a food processor to the same fineness as the crumbs.

After mixing all of the ingredients for the crust press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and up the sides about ½ inch (good time for those kitchen gloves!).  Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.  I did mine the night before which is a nice do-ahead feature of this recipe.

This is also a good time to remind you to read a recipe completely through several times and several days prior to making it for the first time.  You might find yourself in a pickle if you did not allow at least an hour for your crust to get very cold or a day to allow the finished cheesecake to rest in the refrigerator overnight.

For the filling you will need these guys

The recipe calls for bourbon liqueur or bourbon.  Since I already had bourbon on hand I used that.

Whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and the brown sugar. 

 In an electric mixer bowl cream the cream cheese and the granulated sugar.  Beat in the cream, cornstarch, vanilla and the bourbon.  Add the pumpkin mixture   

Beat until the filling is smooth.

Pour the filling into your chilled crust and bake in a 350° F. oven for 50 to 55 minutes.
While the filling is baking, mix up your topping.
This is a simple and quick with only three ingredients.

Whisk together the sour cream, sugar and bourbon.  Set aside until you are ready for it.
I think I hear the timer announcing the filling is done!  Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes or more (but don’t take an hour long nap).  I think I let mine rest for not much more than the recommended 5 minutes.  Also, don't turn the oven off; you'll be sticking the cheesecake back in shortly.

With your offset spatula spread the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake.  Bake for 5 minutes more.

Let cheesecake cool on a wire rack.   When it is completely cool, top with the pecan halves and give it a fine dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.  Cover lightly and refrigerate overnight.

Not the prettiest photo of this cheesecake.  Time got away from me and I failed to take a photo of it when it was removed from it's pan and placed on it's pretty pedestal.    This picture was taken when I was putting it up for the evening.  The pumpkin filling was very creamy yet firm and the topping added a little zing to it.  I liked this cheesecake a lot.  Family members who tried it liked it too but not many are cheesecake eaters.  I took the rest of it to work on Monday and it was gobbled up.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping
Will serve 10-12

For the Crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup finely chopped pecans
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Mise en Place:
butter a 9-inch springform pan
melt butter in microwave and set aside to cool
finely chop the pecans in a food processor until they have the same consistency as your graham cracker crumbs
Measure out the sugars and graham cracker crumbs

In a bowl combine the crumbs, the pecans, and the sugars; stir in the butter and press the mixture into the bottom and ½ inch up the side of a buttered 9-inch springform pan.  Chill the crust for at least an hour (overnight even better)

For the Filling:
1-1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, cut into bits and softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp bourbon or bourbon liqueur

Mise en Place:
cut cream cheese into cubes and allow to soften
measure out all the other ingredients

In a bowl whisk together the pumpkin, the eggs, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the ginger, the salt, and the brown sugar.  Beat in the cream, the cornstarch, the vanilla, the bourbon, and the pumpkin mixture, and beat the filling until it is smooth.

Pour the filling into the crust, bake the cheesecake in the middle of a preheated 350°F oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the center is just set.  Remove from oven and let it cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes.

For the Topping:
2 cups sour cream
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp bourbon or bourbon liqueur

16 toasted pecan halves for garnish

Mise en Place:
measure out all ingredients into your mixing bowl

In a mixing bowl, whisk  together all of your ingredients.  Spread the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake and bake the cheesecake for 5 minutes more.  Let the cheesecake cool in the pan on a rack.  Place the pecan halves around the edge in a geometrical pattern and grate a dusting of fresh nutmeg over the top.  Cover loosely and chill overnight. 

Remove the side of the pan and place cheesecake on a serving plate.


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