Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Praline Topping


This cheesecake/pumpkin pie/pecan pie tri-brid was the best cheesecake I've ever made. 

I LOATHE using water baths for cheesecakes and custards because I am terrible at keeping the water out of my pans. This low temperature, long baking method eliminates the need for a water bath to ensure even baking. It is wonderful. It takes some TLC, but it's totally worth it in the end.

No cracking, no bullshit. Best pumpkin cheesecake ever.


(Katherine Beto)

Ingredients:

Cheesecake:

  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (1 3/4 cups)
  • 8 whole graham crackers, broken
  • 1/2 cup pecans (2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups cream cheese (14 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Praline topping (recipe follows!)

Driections:


  1. Set a rack over a baking sheet and line the rack with 2 layers of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin puree over the paper towels and let drain for 2 hours, until the puree is fairly dry.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter the bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground.
  3. Add the pecans and brown sugar and pulse until finely ground.
  4. Add the melted butter and pulse just until incorporated.
  5. Press the crumbs onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the crust for 5-8 minutes, just until it is fragrant and lightly browned. Let the crust cool completely. (Watch your crust carefully! I burned TWO before I got this right. When it's fragrant and darkish…take it out!)
  7. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese until it is very smooth.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar with the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.
  9. With the machine on, add the spiced sugar to the cream cheese and beat until creamy, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl.
  10. Carefully add the drained pumpkin puree and beat until smooth.
  11. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl between each addition. (This process is tedious, but completely necessary for light, fluffiness!)
  12. Beat in the heavy cream, lemon juice and vanilla until the cheesecake mixture is smooth.
  13. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the cooled crust and bake for 12 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 220° and bake the cheesecake for about 3 hours, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 150°; the center will be very jiggly but not liquify.
  14. Let the cheesecake cool on a rack, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 
  15. Run a hot knife around the cheesecake and loosen the springform ring. Carefully remove the ring and transfer the cake to a plate.
  16. Using a warm knife, cut the cake into wedges and serve with the Pecan Praline Topping and whipped cream.


Praline Topping:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pecans (8 ounces)

Directions:


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer just until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Let the caramel cool.
  2. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until they are lightly browned and fragrant.
  3. Transfer the pecans to a work surface and let them cool.
  4. Coarsely chop the nuts, stir them into the cooled caramel and serve.


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