Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake

I started this dessert with a basic New York-style cheesecake recipe, and modified it to incorporate mashed pumpkin & pumpkin pie spices. Sort of a regular pumpkin pie, made all the more decadent by the addition of cream cheese.  I think it turned out decently...although next time around I won't use as much caramel sauce. (I used the entire jar on my cake; for the recipe that follows, I reduced it by half.)

I've seen other recipes for pumpkin cheesecakes, but nothing like this one.  It's a relatively simple mixture, and there's no bourbon or whiskey incorporated like others I've seen out there. (Although that may be something I experiment with in the future!)  Try it...I hope you enjoy it like my Thanksgiving guests all did!  :)

Crust - 
1¼ C graham crackers (2 packages of a 14.4-oz box)
6 Tbsp melted butter or margarine
¼ C sugar
½ t salt

Filling - 
2 lbs cream cheese (4 - 8oz packages)
4 eggs, slightly beaten
½ C sugar
½ C packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
½ t salt
2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1¼ Tbsp lemon juice
½ can cooked, mashed pumpkin (7-8 oz)
1 C (8 oz) caramel topping for ice cream (such as Mrs. Richardson's or Smuckers)
pinch gourmet sea salt (optional)

Will need a 9" or 10" springform cake pan.

In a food processor, crumble up graham crackers until they have been reduced to very fine crumbs.  (Can also be done using a gallon ziploc and a rolling pin.)  The finer the crumbs, the more even your crust will be.  Add sugar, salt and melted butter.  Mix until butter is well-blended in the crumbs.  Press mixture into the bottom of a springform pan; try to make the bottom as packed in and even as possible.  Place in refrigerator to firm up.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat cream cheese in a mixer until smooth.  In the meantime, combine beaten eggs, sugars, salt, pumpkin pie spice, lemon juice and mashed pumpkin.  Mix well.  Add to cream cheese slowly.  Sides of bowl and beater blades will have to be scraped, as the cream cheese is denser and stickier than the liquid mixture.  Once the entire thing is well-blended (meaning there aren't a lot of cream cheese clumps visible), pour into chilled springform pan. Place pan onto a cookie sheet and bake for 1½ hours.  Cheesecake is done when top has cracked and center has solidified (i.e. is no longer "jiggly").  Remove and cool completely, 2-3 hours.

When cheesecake is cooled, use a butter knife to loosen cake from the sides of the springform pan.  Release cake from pan and place onto serving plate.  Spoon 1 C caramel topping onto top of cheesecake and spread evenly over the top, alowing it to spill over the sides a little.  (Sauce might need to be warmed up for a few seconds [30-60] in the microwave in order for it to reach spreadable viscosity.)  Optional sea salt can be sparsely sprinkled over top of sauce.  Slice cake and serve.

Makes 12 servings.


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