Sunday, November 22, 2009

An introduction....of sorts.

This blog has been marinating around in my brain for the past year or so, waiting to be brought to life. However, such life complications like college graduation, a hectic job search, and the start of (thank the lord) a new job have forced it to be put on hold...temporarily. But life has settled down, at least for the time being, and this blog can no longer be placed on the back burner.

I've been an avid reader of multiple food blogs since my time spent abroad in France. I spent a semester in the city of Bordeaux where I battled mastering the French language and life without an oven- neither proved to be easy feats. Perhaps because I couldn't personally whip up a chocolate cake or a lemon tart, reading about others doing so became my favorite past time in France. That and eating my weight in delicious, expensive pastries that were too beautiful to pass up.

Needless to say, I came back to the United States with a need for some serious baking sessions. Flash forward around a year and half and we have cheesecake, gooood cheesecake. We're talking bourbon pumpkin cheesecake. This was my first attempt at true cheesecake, though I've dabbled in the past with cheesecake bites and cheesecake marbled brownies. Let me just say, this certainly won't be my last one. I made it initially for a Thanksgiving themed party and let me tell you, the crust on this baby is worth the calories alone. In fact, I liked the cheesecake recipe so much that I made it again more recently, in celebration of my mother's birthday and my sister's return to the States. It's that good.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake, recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen (who adapted it from Gourmet magazine).

For crust
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from five 4 3/4- by 2 1/4-inch crackers)
  • 1/2 cup pecans (1 3/4 ounces), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling
  • 1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

For topping
  • 2 cups sour cream (20 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)

  • Garnish: pecan halves

Make crust:
Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter pan.

Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.

Make filling and bake cheesecake:
Put oven rack in middle position and Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. 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 springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Make topping:
Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 minutes.

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

*From my two experiences, the cake definitely needs to be chilled for AT LEAST five hours.

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