Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Foodie Files

Let me just tell you, I've been eating all kinds of feelings lately...mostly excitement and gratitude with the occasional twinge of anxiety because of that thing I want to tell you about but can't (but will soon).  If there's one thing I've learned about eating your feelings, it's that you might as well make them delicious enough to merit the calories, hence last week's Nutella Stuffed, Brown Butter and Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies.  This week I tackled a similarly delicious treat: a Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake (with a graham cracker and pecan crust).  I adapted the recipe from Smitten Kitchen and will almost certainly make it again in the next month or so.  It's got all the perfect fall flavors mixed up in a not-totally-expected way, plus it's easy and scrumptious.  Truth be told, it might even be Thanksgiving worthy (a high honor if I don't say so myself)!  Hope you love it!

For Crust-
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 TBS unsalted butter, melted

For Filling-
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 TBS heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 generous TBS bourbon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

Create a flat bottom (so it's easier to remove the cake) by inverting a 9 inch spring-form pan.  Lock and grease.  Put diced pecans in a sandwich bag and crush with the back of a spoon to make them smaller still.

Stir together crumbs, pecan bits, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well.  Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and halfway up the side of pan, then cover and chill the crust for about an hour.

Put your oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 350°F.  Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liquor in a large bowl until combined.  

In an electric mixing bowl, stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. 

Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.  Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put spring-form pan in a shallow baking pan (in case spring-form leaks).  Bake until center is just set, about 60 minutes. Turn your oven off and let the residual heat cook the cake for an additional 5 minutes. 

Cool cheesecake in the pan on the rack for about an hour, then chill for an additional hour or two.  Remove the sides of the pan and serve!  

Side note: I added one or two TBS of bourbon to a container of extra creamy Cool Whip and served it alongside the cheesecake.  It was amazing...two thumbs up. 


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