As a pumpkin grower, and a great lover of food, many expect me to make lots and lots of pumpkin pie and soup, but three years on, and I have yet to make either. I cook with pumpkin every single week of the year, but I have yet to make some of the most traditional preparations. I make all kinds of savory dishes, and once an a while something sweet. So it was at Thanksgiving three years ago that I first made a Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake. This year, I returned to that beloved, yet rarely made delight.
It was really a treat, and I cannot explain why it has taken me so long to return to it. I am making up for lost time though, with four cheesecakes having been made in two weeks time. I do realize that not everyone likes either pumpkin pie or cheesecake, so combining them may not be everyone’s choice. I was so pleasantly surprised that I encourage you to give it a try. I have toned down the sugar, and upped the pumpkin to suit my taste.
First off, I am not a big dessert person. I would always take a second helping of the main course over dessert, but during the holiday season, it seems to be my time for desserts. I love to share them with one and all. I have combed through dozens of recipes online and each time I look, they seem more and more glamorous. They look absolutely wonderful with caramel sauce zigzagging back and forth, but I have never done that. It is a sugar issue for me. Here is a caramel topped one. that looks very special for any event where it will be on display.
I stuck with a rather modest “everyday” cheesecake. The first year, I mixed toffee pieces throughout the cheesecake, and this year, I put them on top.
Here is how I adapted the online recipes:
I stuck with a pretty simple cheesecake preparation that began with roasting a pan of chopped squash without any water, so to dry out the pumpkin a bit. Then I added the lot of baked pumpkin pieces to the food processor to puree. I got the oven ready at 350. I used pre-made graham cracker or shortbread crusts. Pre-made crusts often make sense here in Hawaii, where the cost of the shortbreads is much higher than the crusts. I add in the ingredients to the food processor, and let each one get mixed in well. I watched many chefs walk away and leave the food processor churning away, so I did the same, cutting the work time down considerably. This year, I also used evaporated milk instead of half and half or cream.
With it all churning away, I pulled two small cookie sheets so that each cheesecake would have space in case it needed to bubble over (which none of them did) but it also makes it easier to handle the lot. I turned the oven off after 45 minutes, and let them continue to set for another 20 minutes. I made a simple icing out of sour cream, some sugar and vanilla, drastically reducing the amount of sugar. I figured there would be enough sugar in the toffee pieces that I put on top. The icing was a nice finish, but it isn’t necessary. I enjoy the simplicity of one made without the additional cream.
With the food processor filled to the very top, it allowed me to fill two crusts, giving them a little shake to even the cheesecake batter in the pans. I needed to rush one of them, so I put it in the freezer to set prior to dinner. It all worked quite well. This is a forgiving dish, with many unique variations to try. I hope to keep experimenting with this. A farmer friend of recommended his goat cheese, which I will try at a later date. I also thought about a macadamia nut crust just for a bit more texture.
So go ahead and see what you come up with. May you be inspired!