When things look like you put a lot of effort into them but really, you spent most of that time watching Gilmore Girls reruns, I believe you can call yourself self-actualized. When all you do is blitz, blend, bake and binge. When you have time to think of alliteration because this cheesecake is so easy.
My friends gave me this beautiful cake stand for my birthday, and I decided, cheesecake was as good a reason as any to inaugurate it. More excuses to make cheesecake with blueberries, strawberries, mango, peanut butter, Oreos , Nutella and even worked into brownies. I will stop at nothing.
If you have grown up in India, giving pumpkins the kind of adulation they get outside of this country seems just absurd. I mean, it’s a pumpkin. We usually chop it up and turn it into a little savoury side dish most people (read, I) wouldn’t look sideways at. But when turned into muffins…well, now we’re talking. Unbelievable flavour!
My hunch is pumpkins outside of India are brighter, more flavourful and usually produce deep amber coloured cheesecakes that you just want to demolish. I didn’t get the colour I was hoping for and since I only had 1/2 a cup of pumpkin puree, the flavour in this cheesecake is milder than what a purist would approve of. The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree but if using an Indian pumpkin, I would suggest up it to a whole cup. If you’re a pumpkin sceptic, then this version is just perfect to impress folks and make them go “wow, this is PUMPKIN??” without you having to cringe inwardly with every forkful.
Once you have your puree ready, it can be frozen for days, weeks even. So when you actually begin to make the cheesecake, the process doesn’t take more than 20 minutes, unless like me, you forget where you kept the cinnamon.
I didn’t have ginger biscuits like the original recipe uses or maple syrup or all spice. Safe to say, this recipe is forgiving and open to alterations of many kinds. Here’s my version 🙂 I hope you love it!
What you’ll need:
For the crust
250 gms digestive biscuits
100 gms salted butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ginger powder
For the pumpkin filling
450 gms cream cheese, softened at room temp (about 2 and a half boxes of Britannia cream cheese)
1/2 cup caster sugar
250 gms pumpkin, pureed or 500 gms for a stronger pumpkin flavour (see below for pureeing instructions)*
2 tbsps honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp salt
* (1. Boil the pumpkin till soft, cool and blend till smooth. OR 2. Quarter and deseed a roughly 500 gm pumpkin, place the pieces on a baking tray and bake in a preheated 190 C oven for about 50 minutes till the insides are soft when pricked with a fork. Allow to cool and then scrape the flesh out and puree in a blender or food processor till smooth, adding a few drops of water if needed. This method will produce a stronger flavour, but the first one is fine if you’re rushed for time. STORAGE: Store in an airtight container and chill for 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months till you need to use the puree)
What to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 175 C. Grease a 9″ x 13″ square baking pan. I tried lining it with baking paper but that proved disastrous so I recommend just sticking to a well-greased pan.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, blitz the digestive biscuits until they form a coarse, sandy mixture. Add sugar, spices and melted butter. Blitz again till the mixture clumps together and looks moist.
3. Tip the mixture into the greased pan, pressing it down evenly and tightly. Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool while you make the cheesecake filling.
4. In a small bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, honey, spices, vanilla and salt till combined.
5. Clean out the bowl of the food processor and blitz the cream cheese for a few seconds till smooth. Over-beating will cause the cheesecake to crack in the oven, something I did not know till yesterday!
6. Add the sugar and blitz again for a few seconds. Add the pumpkin mixture, blitz till combined, a few more seconds is all.
7. Finally add the eggs, one by one, blitzing till smooth. The batter will be runny. At this stage, it’s a good idea to take a quick taste and see if you want to add any more vanilla or spices.
8. Pour the batter onto the baked crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the edges have browned lightly and the center has a slight wobble. The cheesecake will look set and a little puffed. Do not bake it beyond this point to avoid cracks.
9. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour, then chill for at least 6 hours. Cut into squares and serve. I topped the squares with bits of the crust that were left behind in the pan thanks to the baking paper accident! It kind of worked out well 🙂