Are you ready for Thanksgiving? NO? Me either. How does it always come down to this hectic frenzy right before holidays when I think I’m a planner? Well, for me, it has not helped one tiny bit that a local web host has decided to go out of business and he hosts several of my web clients. We have another 7 days before he’s gone and I’ve still got 4 sites to finishing transferring to WordPress, a totally new environment. I would love to drink to drown my sorrows but I think the best I can do right now is indulge in some sweets to deal with the stress. And how prophetic that this months Progressive Eats event is aptly titled ‘Great Holiday Desserts?’
My choice for this sweets extravaganza was to go pumpkin. Weirdly late huh? Me, of the ‘oh stop with the pumpkin’ attitude is now, finally ready to get onboard. With some REAL pumpkin. I discovered the most amazing pumpkins last year, a variety called Cinderella and they are a double whammy winner. Gorgeous in appearance but also the best tasting pumpkin I’ve ever had; I think even better than the more renown Sugar Pumpkin.
Have you ever harvested a fresh pumpkin for your fall pumpkin needs? For most of my life I just bought a pumpkin, carved it with my kids and then pitched it. Since our carving pumpkin years are over, I now buy baking pumpkins to sit outside through Halloween and then bring them in and make them into pumpkin puree to freeze for later. In this case, much later…this puree was from last year! Still, it’s so easy and the results are so superior to canned product. Simply clean your pumpkin of all seeds and strings, rub with some vegetable oil and bake at 350 degrees until you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the outer shell and puree it using a blender or food processor. I like to simmer mine for a bit on the stove to cook out some of the water but that can also be done after they’re thawed too. My FoodSaver is my champion once they’re cooked; I put 15 oz into each one; the same as the amount that comes in the cans. So easy and so good; try it!
This was really a pretty easy dessert. I had some gingersnaps in the pantry and pumpkin in the fridge so that combination sort of spoke to me. I put walnuts into the crust as well on on top of the pie; I called it ‘with’ walnuts so thought I had better deliver. Substitute pecans too if you want but when toasted, walnuts take on such a different taste and I love them more. I also made a bourbon caramel sauce using this recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce. I simply substituted some of the cream with bourbon; to taste. I did a quarter cup and we loved it but use from 2-4 Tablespoons to get a nice flavor without overpowering it with booze.
For the Gingersnap Crust
- 1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookies
- 6 Tbsp melted butter
- 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 6 Tbsp sugar
For the Filling
- 24 oz (3 packages) cream cheese; room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 15 oz pumpkin, fresh or canned
- 2 Tbsp. bourbon
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup toasted walnut (or pecan) pieces
- Whipping cream
To Make the Crust:
- Mix together all ingredients in a bowl or in a processor. Pat into a 9 inch springform pan; covering both the bottom and about 1 inch on the sides.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes Remove from oven and cool completely.
To Make the Cheesecake:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees (or turn it down if baking crust and cheesecake in succession).
- Put the cream cheese and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated; add the pumpkin and the bourbon and beat to combine.
- Combine the flour and pumpkin pie spice and whisk together. Add to the filling and beat gently until smooth.
- Pour the filling into the cooled crust.Do not overfill; leave about 1/2 to 3/4 top space. I had a bit of extra filling so just baked it in a ramekin for 'testing.'
- Put the pan into the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until it looks set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out wet but clean.
- Turn the heat off, crack the oven door about 4 or 5 inches. Leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door cracked open for an additional 30 minutes. This should help prevent any cracks but with this dessert it's not really an issue since the top is being covered with toasted walnuts, whipped cream and caramel. What cracks?
- Remove from the oven to cool completely. Once cooled, put into the refrigerator until time to serve.
- Fill the top with toasted walnuts and top with whipped cream.
- Drizzle the whipped cream with caramel sauce - salted, bourbon or otherwise!
I hope you will take the time to visit my friends who are participating in this months Progressive Eats; I know you will find some amazing recipes that we hope you can use during your holiday festivities.
Great Holiday Desserts
- Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon and Caramel Sauce
- Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake Roll
- Bourbon Cajeta Apple Butter Goat Cheese Cheesecake
- Mini Mascarpone Cheesecakes
- Vanilla Rum-Chocolate Chestnut Saint Honoré
Pies and Tarts
Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
This month’s theme is Great Holiday Desserts hosted by Jenni Field at Pastry Chef Online. Cookies, cakes, pies and more for your holiday party planning!