Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Are you all ready for the onslaught that is pumpkin season? I AM!

I’ve been swimming in pumpkin these past several weeks, and totally loving it! Also, I finally tried my hand at making my own pumpkin puree. You guys, it is SO easy! I had three pie pumpkins hanging around, much thanks to a field trip my son’s class took to an orchard (and also a local fall festival), so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. All you have to do it trim off the stem and cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh, and roast them in the oven (350°F) for about an hour.  Once they’re done cooking, let them cool a bit, scoop out the flesh, and puree away (if you find it too thin, simply pour it into a strainer and let it sit until your desired consistency is reached)! So so easy!

So about this recipe- I made it several times last year, and it was always a hit. I tried again this year, and again it was a stunner. I love this recipe because it doesn’t require the crust to be pre-baked, and the filling is a one-bowl recipe.

(Recipe adapted from A Treats Affair.)

 

 

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Yield: One 9”x13” Pan

Ingredients:

For Crust:

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

For Filling:

  • 4 packs (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice

Directions:

Prepare Crust:

Preheat oven to 300°F and set aside a aluminum foil or parchment paper lined 9”x13” pan.

In a medium bowl, combine graham crackers crumbs and melted butter. Transfer to prepared pan and press the crumbs on to the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Prepare Filling:

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium low speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat until thoroughly combined. Pour half of the mixture over the crust, and spread evenly.

To remaining cheesecake filling, whisk in pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. Carefully spoon mixture evenly over the pan.

Bake until the edges are set and the center is still a little wobbly, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours prior to serving.

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New York Cheesecake (…and some musings)

I know this is a food blog, and maybe I shouldn’t be delving into these things, but I’ve had a lot on my mind lately…

As we all know, the political climate in America (and around the globe) has been burning hot. Things were simmering for quite some time, but the simmer has erupted into a full boil and is threatening to spill over.

Here in the States, we are looking into the face of a xenophobic, islamophobic, racist, hate-mongering, modern day fascist. The Republican frontrunner (?!) has brought out a very nasty side of our fellow Americans. I am so disappointed and saddened by the way my countrymen have responded to these times of trials and tribulations. Instead of coming together and supporting one another, we are being torn apart.

Places of worship are being desecrated, Muslims are being harassed in the streets and their schools, Muslim women are being targeted for wearing their religious head covering.

People that we grew up with, who know us, are responding to us with vitriol. I just feel so hurt and disappointed.

You guys, we are one. We bleed the same blood. Don’t let hate drive a wedge between us. We are better than that.

***

Cheesecake is something that I’ve been struggling with and wanting to conquer for quite some time. The last time I attempted making a standard cheesecake was in Spring 2013, when my father and mother were visiting. My Papa was a fan of cheesecake, and it was for him that I attempted to take a shot at it. The crust was slightly burnt and super soggy, and the surface was majorly cracked, but my dad savored and relished each bite.

This time around, I made sure to do my research before I got started. I went through and read about various tips and techniques, and I also reached out to the Cheesecake Queen herself, Faaiza of Modest Munchies, for some pointers (take a look at her impressive roundup of cheesecakes!). The following are techniques that will ensure you get the perfect cheesecake:

  • Be sure to grease your pan! Most recipes don’t call for the springform pan to be greased, but to help prevent cracking, make sure you’re greasing the sides. The science behind it is that as the cheesecake cools, it contracts inwards. If the sides aren’t greased, the cake will stick to the sides and crack as it contracts.
  • Use room temperature cream cheese and eggs.
  • After the cream cheese has been mixed well with the sugar, swap out your mixer/whisk for a mixing spoon and gently mix the remaining ingredients. Do not overmix!
  • Once you’ve poured the batter into the pan, tap the pan on the counter a few times. This helps release any air bubbles that could potentially lead to crackage (awesome tip from Faaiza!).
  • Low and slow baking is the way to go! Skip the water bath, and bake according to the directions on the recipe. Once the time is up, turn off the heat, and allow the cheesecake to cool down in the oven itself. The point behind this is that it allows the cheesecake to cool slowly, thus avoiding abrupt temperature changes, and eventual cracks.
  • If all else fails, cover that baby up with some fruit or whipped cream and call it a day 🙂

(Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.)

 

NewYorkCheesecake

New York Cheesecake

Yield: 1 9-inch Cake

Ingredients:

For Cheesecake:

  • 15 leaves graham crackers, crushed
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 pounds (4 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

For Topping:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Make Cheesecake:

Preheat oven to 325°F and set aside a greased 9-inch springform pan.

In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and cinnamon and mix until thoroughly combined. Transfer mixture to prepared springform pan, and press the crumbs onto the bottom. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar and whisk until smooth. Using a mixing spoon, add whipping cream and mix until just combined. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring only until combined. Add sour cream, all-purpose flour, and vanilla. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into springform pan and tap on the counter a few times to release any air pockets.

Bake for 70 minutes, and then turn off the oven. Allow the cake to cool in the oven, without opening the door, for 6 to 8 hours. Transfer to fridge and chill until ready to serve, at least 4 hours.

Make Topping:

Combine sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Spread evenly over chilled cheesecake.

Cheesecake Cupcakes

Cheesecake is on my bucket-list of recipes to perfect because I’ve only had failed experiences so far.  I’ve followed countless recipes, used water-baths, used “guaranteed” tips, only to be left disappointed.  My biggest issue isn’t the taste, but it’s the giant crack that runs through the center of each and every cheesecake recipe I’ve tried.

::Sigh:: I guess I just have to keep looking!

In the meantime, I’ve been making do with these cute cheesecake cupcakes I found over at Annie’s Eats.  They’re perfectly portioned, and are surprisingly light (as opposed to a traditional dense cheesecake).  The only thing I changed was that instead of a fruit swirl, I topped each cheesecake with a strawberry topping.

If you have any tips or suggestions for me, please leave them in the comment section.  In the meantime, my search for the perfect cheesecake continues!

SwirledCheesecakeCupcakesPic

Swirled Cheesecake Cupcakes

Yield:  12 to 15 Servings

Ingredients:

For Crust:

  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar

For Filling:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature

For Swirl:

  • 3 ounces of raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

Make Crust:

Preheat oven to 325°F and set aside muffin tins fitted with liners.

In a small bowl, combine all of the crust ingredients.  Mix well to make sure all of the dry ingredients are moistened.

Press 1 tablespoon of crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Bake for 5 minutes, or until just set.  Cool on a wire rack.

Make Filling:

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese on medium-high until light and fluffy.  Add sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Pour batter over crust in each cupcake cavity, filling no more than ¾ of the way up.

Make Berry Puree:

Combine berries and sugar in a bowl and allow it to sit for a few minutes.  Blitz in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds.

Using ½ teaspoon worth of puree, spoon a few dots over the cheesecake batter.  Use a toothpick to lightly swirl and create a marbled effect.

Fill a roasting pan with water and place on the bottom rack of the oven to create a water bath.

Bake cheesecakes until the filling is set, about 22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.