26/11/2007
Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramelized Walnut and Ginger Sauce
Desserts / All Seasons / Anna Thomas / Serves: 12


Crust:
1.5 cups milk arrowroot crumbs
4 Tbs. butter, melted
3 Tbs. sugar
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Filling:
24 oz (680.38 g) cream cheese
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 cups cooked pumpkin (recipe follows)
1 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of cloves
4 eggs
4 Tbs. heavy cream

Caramelized Walnut and Ginger Sauce:
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger





Notes:

Definitely roast your pumpkin whole if you can get the right-sized pumpkin - then you can avoid the whole nasty process of slicing and peeling.

The heavy-bottomed pot is pretty important for the caramel - I had to do mine three times (burnt the first two).

This recipe is adapted from Anna Thomas's American version especially for the New Zealand kitchen.

Source:

Anna Thomas, The New Vegetarian Epicure, Knopf Press, 1996.


Prepare the crust by mixing together the milk arrowroot crumbs, melted butter and sugar, then stirring in the lightly beaten egg white. Press the crust into the bottom and partly up the sides of a 25-cm springform cake pan. Flatten it evenly with a potato masher, or with your fingers.

Beat the cream cheese with the sugar until it is somewhat fluffy. Remove about 3/4 cup of this mixture and set it aside in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.

To the remainder of the cream cheese mixture, add the pumpkin and spices and beat thoroughly, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Pour the filling into the crust and bake in a preheated 175 deg. Celcius oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The centre of the cake will still move slightly when shaken.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then run a very thin, sharp knife around the sides to loosen it. Let the cake finish cooling, then cover it tightly and chill it for 6 hours, or overnight.

Remove the reserved cream cheese mixture from the refrigerator and allow it to reach room temperature. Whisk in the 4 tablespoons of cream until smooth.

Remove the sides of the cake pan, and spread the cream cheese smoothly over the top of the cheesecake.

Cut the cheesecake in wedges with a very sharp knife, wiping the knife between slices, and spoon the Caramelized Walnut and Ginger Sauce over the top of each serving.

To cook fresh pumpkin:

The easiest way to cook fresh pumpkin is to bake it in a hot oven (190 deg. C) until it is soft throughout. If you are baking an entire pumpkin, prick it in a few places with a fork and put it on a baking sheet to catch any juices. If you're baking a wedge or slice of a large pumpkin, scrape out the seeds, then wrap the piece well in aluminium foil and bake until soft. The time will vary with the size of the pumpkin, but count on at least an hour.

When the pumpkin gives easily to slight pressure, it's done. Cut it open, allow it to cool somewhat, then scoop out and discard the seeds. Scrape all the soft flesh off the skin and drain it ina sieve for about 15 minutes, then puree or mash it. You will have a thick pulp which can be used for pies or soups, or for pumpkin butter. (What's that?!)

Caramelized Walnut and Ginger Sauce:

Heat the sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed pot until it melts and turns light golden brown. Add the hot water carefully; the caramel will 'seize up' in contact with the liquid, and there may be some spattering. Lower the heat and simmer the liquid, stirring occasionally, until the caramel completely dissolves into it, making a thin syrup.

Stir the chopped walnuts and ginger into the syrup, remove it from the heat, and allow it to cool somewhat before serving.

Spoon the sauce, in small quantities, over slices of Pumpkin Cheesecake, or over vanilla ice cream.