Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pumpkin cheesecake texture trumps traditional pie for many

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BONNIE Miller recently wrote in requesting a pumpkin dessert that appeared in the Free Press when Annie Buckland was the food writer. I emailed Annie herself, and she kindly sent this recipe for her mom's spectacular pumpkin cheesecake. Annie now lives in Toronto and blogs on food (and life) at anniedishes.com. Meanwhile, swappers sent in so many other pumpkin recipes that I wanted to feature one of them as well. Thanks to Audrey Showdra, Wanda Urschatz, Heida Bottrell, Edna Mroz, Linda Snider and Karin Bock, and to Betty Clark, who sent in another pie alternative, a pumpkin filling with a cakey topping.

This week, Marion Yarema is hoping someone can help her replicate the Vietnamese chicken salad (or Goi Ga) served at the Pho No. 1 restaurant. Shirley Friesen is looking for a recipe for the braided egg bread that used to be sold at Michel's Bakery cafe in Polo Park. Nichole would like a recipe for short ribs done in the slow cooker. And any Easter or Passover family favourites would be appreciated. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to recipeswap@freepress.mb.ca, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.

The great pumpkin cheesecake

(from anniedishes.com)

For crust:

375 ml (1 1/2 cup) graham crumbs

60 ml (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

30 ml (2 tbsp) brown sugar

For filling:

4 eggs

250 ml (1 cup) packed brown sugar

500g (2 bricks) cream cheese

1 x 398ml can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)

10 ml (2 tsp) ground cinnamon

10 ml (2 tsp) ground ginger

2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground cloves

2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground nutmeg

For topping:

250 ml (1 cup) whipping cream

60 ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup

handful of sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). Combine graham crumbs, butter and brown sugar in food processor and pulse until well combined and beginning to clump together. Pat this mixture firmly into the base of a 20 cm (8 in) spring-form pan and refrigerate until ready to use.

Give your food processor bowl a wipe with a damp paper towel -- you'll be using it for your cheesecake filling, too. For filling, process eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Add cream cheese, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg and process until mixture is completely combined.

Pour filling onto crust and bake 45-60 minutes, until cake is set on the outside but still wobbly in the middle.

Place pan on a rack to cool completely, then refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, run a hot knife around the outside of the cake and gently remove spring-form pan sides. Whip cream together with maple syrup. Cover top of cake with whipped cream, and arrange toasted almonds in whatever decorative fashion suits you.

Serves 10-12.

Tester's notes: It's interesting to note that some people who can't abide pumpkin pie love pumpkin cheesecake. It's probably a texture thing, and this divine cheesecake is lovely and creamy. I took mine out at the 45-minute mark, when it was still quite soft in the middle. By the end of the cooling process, it was perfect. The maple whipped cream is beautiful -- and could be used to top a lot of other desserts.

The hit of ginger makes for some heat in this cheesecake -- you might want to adjust down the spices if you prefer a mellower taste.

A pumpkin affair

4 large eggs

1 x 796 ml can pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

250 ml (1 cup) granulated sugar

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

10 ml (2 tsp) cinnamon

2 ml (1/2 tsp) cloves

2 ml (1/2 tsp) nutmeg (optional)

1 x 370 ml can evaporated milk

1 x 432 g package yellow cake mix

125 ml (1/2 cup) butter, melted

250-375 ml (1-1 1/2 cups) chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). Grease a 22x33 cm (9x13 in) pan. In large bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices and milk until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix on top. Drizzle over melted butter and stir very lightly by moving fork through the pan in a figure-eight pattern several times. (Do not overmix: cake mix should be mostly visible and sitting on top of the pumpkin mixture.) Sprinkle with nuts. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted near centre comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Tester's notes: A neat upside-down alternative to pie, with the filling on the bottom and a cakey-streuselly layer on top. When I first saw the cake mix component, I did wonder how it would all work, but the dry mix transforms while it bakes. If there seem to be dry spots in the last quarter of cooking, you might dot with a bit more butter. I saw some similar recipes that used up to 175 ml (3/4 cup) melted butter. I also prepared my pan by greasing, lining with parchment paper that overhung on two sides, and then greasing the paper. This allowed for easier removal.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 27, 2013 C5

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