Friday, November 17, 2006
Pumpkin Cheesecake, the Bi-coastal Middle-of-the-Aisle Treat 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
What on earth is the gracious hostron to do when some at your Thanksgiving party prefer tasty but prim Midwestern pumpkin pie, while others crave the sophisticated, gently debauched flavor of a New York Style Cheesecake? Sometimes, a good dessert transcends ideological, ethnic, and political boundaries. Rather than encouraging a Big Apple/Big Shoulders indoor football game brawl, try my easy Pumpkin Cheesecake for the holidays.

You'll need a ovenproof deep-dish pie pan (at least 1-1/4 deep) and a hand mixer, utensils found in virtually any self-respecting galley. I don't mess with springform pans myself, and this version delivers a titillating trompe l'oeil effect: is it a pie? Is it a cheesecake? It swings both ways, dahling.Note that with the exception of the extra egg and graham cracker crust - and the omission of the obligatory can of evaporated milk - this recipe is virtually identical to pumpkin pie. That's because a pumpkin pie is basically a pumpkin custard, while a cheesecake is basically a cheese custard. Big secret, right?
  1. Preheat oven to 325°, and use an oven thermometer to verify temperature if you're unsure of the thermostat's accuracy - over- or under-baking is the number one killer of American cheesecakes.
  2. Crush graham crackers (or use an equivalent amount of crumbs), dump into over-proof pie dish.
  3. Place half a stick of butter in the pan. Microwave pan, crumbs and butter for 1 minute until butter melts. Remove from microwave and mix crumbs with butter with a spoon until crumbly and blended. Pat firmly into bottom of pan with spoon and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine room-temperature cream cheese, pumpkin, eggs, sugar and spices. Using a handmixer (and a spatula to push everything down now and then) whisk ingredients together until smooth.
  5. Pour into pie pan, smoothing top with spatula.
  6. Shoo cream-cheese-loving cats away from unbaked pie until ready to place in oven.
  7. Bake for one hour at 325° in center of oven, remove, and allow to cool. Chill for several hours or overnight in refrigerator for best texture and flavor.