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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Spiced pumpkin swirl cheesecake

So I decided to change it up a bit this year for Thanksgiving....ukkah.  Almost all of my treats involve a component of Thanksgiving and Channukkah (or, if I needed to stretch it, "Jewish" food).  I made a few versions of ruggelach pinwheels (original, cranberry-pecan, pumpkin, and pecan pie).  My apple pie had a potato latke crust.  I have a cupcake treat coming up -- but that's more "Channukkah" than "Thanksgiving."  I am also making a second Apple Pie with Latke Crust, but am planning on decreasing some of the sugar in the pie filling, since my mom said it was a little too sweet...but more on that later.

So this year for Thanksgiving, I'm making a Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake instead of pumpkin pie.  I figured that since I am not a fan of pumpkin pie at all and sorta like cheesecake, maybe the sum of the two would be better than the individual parts.  So in continuing with my Thanksgivukkah desserts, I'm going to say that cheesecake is a NY Jewish Deli treat.  That may or may not be completely true, but I'm going with it... ;-)

The recipe that I chose to follow had a pecan crust, however my cousin E is allergic to nuts, and I never bring nuts into her house.  So I went with an old fashioned graham cracker crust (that I had used almost a year ago on my mini cheesecakes) - which I 1.5x because the original recipe said it was for a 7" springform.

The original recipe called for layering the plain and pumpkin cheesecake layers and then swirling all 4 layers together.  I decided that I wanted to try to swirl only the top two layers, and that way the cheesecake would have distinct layers when you looked at it from the side.  I'd say I was successful!

Also, although there are several people in my family who are not pumpkin fans, this cheesecake was hands down the favorite dessert of Thanksgiving.  So much so, that I've already been asked to make it again next year.  And, as an aside, the two biggest pumpkin-averse people in the world (B and I) actually enjoyed it!

Spiced Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
from Taste of Home.  I added my own graham cracker crust...see the bottom for that.


Crust (I didn't use this one):

2 cups pecan halves, toasted (see the original link for how to toast the pecans)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter, melted

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened                            
1 cup packed brown sugar, divided                            
3/4 cup sour cream                            
2 teaspoons vanilla extract                            
3 eggs, lightly beaten                             
1 cup canned pumpkin                             
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon                             
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger                            
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves -- I halved that...I debated not adding it at all since I don't like cloves, but figured I should try it since it was a spiced pumpkin swirl cheesecake.
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


If using the graham cracker crust, see the bottom and then start where I put the asterisk (*).

Preheat oven to 325°.
Place a greased 9-in. springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). 
Wrap foil securely around pan.
Place pecans and brown sugar in a food processor; pulse until fine crumbs form.
Add butter; pulse to combine.
Press onto the bottom of prepared pan.
Place pan on a baking sheet.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until light brown.
Cool on a wire rack.
*In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and 3/4 cup brown sugar until smooth.
Beat in sour cream and vanilla.
Add eggs; beat on low speed just until blended.
In another bowl, mix pumpkin, spices and remaining brown sugar.
Stir in 1-1/2 cups of the cream cheese mixture.
To layer, pour 1-1/2 cups plain cream cheese mixture over crust.
Gently spread 1-1/3 cups pumpkin mixture over top. I didn't measure how much I used, but I wanted to make sure that there was a defined layer of pumpkin in the cake.
Repeat layers.  For the top layer of pumpkin cheesecake filling, I placed dallops of it all over the plain layer, so that the plain really showed through when I swirled it.
Cut through layers with a knife to swirl.  I tried very hard (and hopefully successfully) to only swirl the top two layers, so that when you cut into the cheesecake, you'd see a plain layer on top of the crust, then a pumpkin layer, and then a swirled layer on top.   
Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 inch of hot water to larger pan.
Bake 60-70 minutes or until center is just set and top appears dull.
Remove springform pan from water bath.
Cool cheesecake on a wire rack 10 minutes.
Loosen sides from pan with a knife; remove foil from bottom.  
Cool 1 hour longer.
Refrigerate overnight.
Remove rim from pan.
from Shari (more about Shari when I first posted it here)
For this spiced pumpkin swirl cheesecake, I 1.5x the recipe, since the original recipe was for a 7" springform.  I think it was a bit more than I needed, so I ended up with a decent crust.  I have included the adjusted recipe below.  You may want to play around and maybe not use all of it if you don't want a thick crust.
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/8 cup (6 Tbsp) melted butter (I used unsalted, as I always do with baking)
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 400F.
Grease a 9" springform pan.

Make the crust:
Mix the crust ingredients together.
Press the crust into the springform pan.
Bake at 400 degrees until brown, being careful not to burn it.  Watch.  It.  Closely!  It goes from perfectly brown to burnt in a matter of seconds.
Lower the heat to 325.

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