Monday, November 23, 2009

I am here singing a Dark Holiday....Putting these Demos to the Test...

One of my weekly adventures is going to the Williams Sonoma Cooking demos. Well, tonight my mom & I put these "Demos" to the test. We tackled the Pumpkin Cheesecake" tonight to kick off this holiday season.

Now there's a little thing you guys gotta know about me. I can't cook. lol. I boil water, put coffee grinds in it, and then ask, "So how long does it take a brew?". (Yeah one day I learned what Instant Coffee was.) I can make pasta & make brownies, and an occasional pie but all in all cooking isn't my finest hour. But actually after seeing the movie "Julie & Julia" I got motivated to learn how to really cook. And the holidays are the perfect time to showcase it.

The first order of business is the recipe for this Pumpkin Cheesecake.

I got this information via Williams Sonoma. It goes as follows.

Pumpkin Cheesecake:

A gingersnap crumb crust underlies this spicy cheesecake, and caramel-coated pecans adorn the top, for an irresistible alternative to traditional pumpkin pie. Cut this rich dessert into small wedges to serve.
For the gingersnap crust:

* 1/4 lb. gingersnaps (about 20 small cookies)
* 1/3 cup pecan halves
* 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
* 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

* 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
* 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
* 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
* 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
* 1 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
* 3 eggs
* 1 cup pumpkin puree

For the topping:

* 1/2 cup pecan halves
* 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
* 2 Tbs. granulated sugar


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.

To make the crust, in a food processor, combine the gingersnaps and pecans and process until crumbly. Add the brown sugar and melted butter and pulse for a few seconds to blend. Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared pan. Use your fingers to pat the mixture into the bottom and evenly all the way up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

To make the filling, in a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cloves. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Using a rubber spatula, occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the brown sugar mixture, beating until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree, beating until smooth. Using the rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the chilled crust and smooth the top.

Bake the cheesecake until set or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the topping, set aside 10 pecan halves and coarsely chop the rest. In a small fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add all of the pecans, sprinkle with the granulated sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and the nuts are toasted and caramel coated. Transfer the nut mixture to a plate and let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped pecans over the cheesecake and arrange the halves evenly around the perimeter. Serves 10 to 12.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Thanksgiving Entertaining, by Lou Seibert Pappas (Simon & Schuster, 2005).

Honestly it's not that hard to make. I don't cook and I was able to read the directions successfully & complete it. I measured out all the spices, cracked the eggs, & used the unsalted butter. It does make a bit of a mess, but cooking is messy. lol. We thought it would be something different for the holidays than the standard apple & pumpkin pies. The above collage is pictures from the process.

One of the things that we did notice about this pie was it took longer than the 30-45 minutes. It all depends on your oven. It was fun. My mom & I had quality mother/daughter time. One of the positives of the holidays is that I'm the only child so I'm the one that gets to help with the cooking. =)

If anyone is looking for something different for the holidays, check out this recipe. Click the Williams Sonoma site above then go to recipes and type in "Pumpkin Cheesecake". It's still baking right now so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that'll it taste good on Thursday. =) This is what it looked like at the demo.

I just wanted to really thank everybody for their comments lately. It's such a weird time in my life so my posts have been on very random topics randomly. But the encouragement & just the fact of knowing that people feel the same way about things is amazing. Thank you thank you!

The title is from the Dommin song, "Dark Holiday", minus the latter part. =P


Miss Vintage Vixen said...

Pumpkin Cheescake.

Oh wow, I read it the first time and I thought it said Turkey Cheescake.

I was like... "Uuuh, okay, Melanie."



ChinkyGirLMeL said...

Pumpkin Cheesecake. That looks yummy. Wish I had all those ingredients here. grrr... I guess I'll just have to sit here and look at that picture. hehehehe

Barry said...

Melanie, maybe you can't cook yet but you can write like hell! So please keep it up because I really enjoy it.

One of the things I like most about you is that when you realize something is lacking in your life you DO something to fix it. I really admire that in people.

And I love, love that pensive-looking profile pic of you in the photo montage at the bottom of this post. My favourite photo of you so far!

Happy cooking and keep smiling,


Jennifer Fabulous said...

Nom nom nom. That is the sound of me eating your entire pumpkin cheesecake. (Okay, sorry, I'm a dork, LOL!). Omg though it looks SO FREAKING GOOD! For someone who doesn't cook, you are quite talented at it. ;)

Thanks for sharing the recipe. :) I am going to have to make this one soon!

Anonymous said...

I just another pound of Fat, from looking at your delicious pumpkin cheesecake.

You have a nice Thanksgiving!


A Perfect Peach said...

Looks amazing! I might have to make that for Thanksgiving!

Melanie's Randomness said...

Oh I know about the fat. I feel like I gained a pound just making the thing. lol. But it's the holidays.

Bathwater said...

What would cooking be without the enjoyment of eating it after! There is nothing more fun to eat then desserts too!

DesBisoux said...

that cheese cake looks delish' Mel!! and you say you can't cook??? well i guess you can bake!
love the little cameo of pictures you've made!
you make me want some family time...
lots of hugs!'re really pretty...

Anonymous said...

I cannot really cook either. My dad has always been the top chef of the house so there wasn't much motivation. But since my dorm room now has a kitchen I was pushed to learn how to cook finally (I must admit "Julie & Julia" helped me too). I'm slowly getting better, but only a few things I've made have felt like legit meals (mostly pasta dishes). Its tough cook for one, proportions are always off. Your W&S class sounds fun, if only there was a W&S class near me too

Feelmore said...

GO you! I always say I'm going to cook, get as far as gather the ingrediants, and then wander off while hubby actually cooks the food.... so I'm impressed! :)

Anonymous said...

Wow. That looks like you did a really good job!

Toothfairy said...

sounds and looks really good! I love pumpkin, so this is really my thing!


Melissa Blake said...

Oh my, that looks delicious!! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Pumpkin cheesecake sounds delicious - it is great that you are getting in there and learning to cook!

Dustjacket Attic said...

Oh honey, that cheesecake looks delicious...cheesecake is a fav of mine. That is so great you can spend time with your mom...and learning to cook too... Mmm I could do with that :)

Being Brazen said...

Looks yummy

Chessa! said...

mmmm!!! this sounds AMAZING!!!

OceanDreams said...

That looks delicious, you are making my mouth water! I wish I had cheese though, that part sucks! Good job and glad you can have fun with your mom and learn the pros and cons of baking. Lol.


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