Baked Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce

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Having seen so many pumpkin desserts appearing over the last few weeks, presumably in readiness for the American Thanksgiving celebration (which we sadly don’t celebrate Down Under), I was curious to see what a pumpkin flavoured dessert would be like. I chose this cheesecake recipe from Amanda Laird of The New Zealand Herald, which I further adapted. I opted for a ginger biscuit base instead of a plain one; substituted both light and dark muscovado sugar instead of brown sugar (which gives a deeper, more complex flavour), and added a dash of Bailey’s Irish Cream (no excuses needed!), upping the cream cheese content slightly so the mixture wouldn’t be too wet.

I paired the cheesecake with a home-made caramel sauce, home-made crème fraiche, sweetened with muscovado sugar and pecan nuts. I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised by the result – the cheesecake itself was silky and had a lovely mellow, spicy flavour. But it was made SO much better with the sauce and crème fraiche which added the required sweet and sour notes; not to mention the pecan nuts for crunch. Really scrumptious – glad I tried it.

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PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE WITH CARAMEL SAUCE & CRÈME FRAICHE

Serves 8 (20cm cake)

Ingredients: (Click here for unit converter)

Base

  • 1 packet (200g) gingernut biscuits
  • 75-85g butter, melted

Filling

  • Approx. 800g piece of pumpkin (or enough to make 1 cup of puree)
  • ¼ cup dark muscovado sugar  & ¼ – ½ cup light muscovado sugar (or ½ – ¾ cup brown sugar)
  • Optional: A dash of pure maple syrup if you want to sweeten further
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Optional: 3 Tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 500g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce – see recipe here

Crème Fraiche 

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 2.5 Tbsp light muscovado sugar (or plain brown sugar will do)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
  2. Break up the biscuits and put into a food processor. Pulse until a fine crumb. Add the melted butter and combine. Press into a lined 20cm (8 inch) spring form tin and refrigerate, lightly covered in plastic wrap.
  3. Chop up the pumpkin, place in a baking dish and cook for 30-40 minutes or until soft. Remove and let cool. Once cool enough to touch, scoop out the pulp and place into a food processor and process until smooth. If needed, strain through a fine strainer and put aside.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C (320°F). Place a cake tin or similar oven dish half filled with water at the bottom of the oven – this will provide moisture to prevent the cheesecake from cracking*(if your cake does crack, see note and video below about how to repair them).
  5. To make the filling: Combine the pumpkin with the two different sugars, dash of maple syrup if using, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Add the Bailey’s Irish Cream, if using. Add the softened cream cheese then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Should the mixture be a little lumpy, simply strain through a fine strainer. Pour into the cooled base and bake for about 50 minutes (mine took nearly an hour in my old stove), or until just set – the sides will look firm and the centre should jiggle when you shake it gently (the cake will firm up considerably once chilled).
  6. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Loosen the cake from the pan by running a sharp knife around the inside edge (this will help prevent the cake from cracking). Then place a piece of aluminum foil lightly over the top of the pan so the cheesecake will cool slowly. When completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least eight hours, preferably overnight, before serving with caramel sauce, crème fraiche and pecan nuts.
  7. For the Brown Sugar Crème Fraiche: Put all the ingredients into a mixer bowl and beat at a low speed until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: If your cheesecake cracks, or the sides look less than pristine, you can get very crafty and do some miracle working. This eHow video shows you how. I can vouch for its effectiveness, as my cake had a couple of cracks which I effectively covered up.


Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting

 

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