“It should either be a pumpkin pie or a cheesecake. Just not together!
That was Mr. Rosemary’s response when I told him what I was making for his sister’s birthday.
“You made this before, didn’t you?” he asked.
I nodded demurely.
“And I didn’t like it then, did I?”
“Well,” said I. “You didn’t rave about it. But you ate it,” I quietly reasoned. And, after all, it wasn’t his birthday. (I didn’t say that last part out loud.)
“Hmmph.” he said. I took that as a concession and proceeded on my merry way in the kitchen.
The next day as he saw me unmolding the cheesecake from its springform confines, he wanted to know if I was happy with the way it turned out.
I wasn’t sure how to answer because I didn’t know yet. I daringly mixed up two different recipes, because I liked pieces of each. The cheesecake looked good, but you (or at least, I, unconfident baker that I am) never know until you cut into a cake, even a cheesecake. I feared it was going to be a bit dry. Over baking (or is it under baking?) is my biggest baking sin.
So, just for insurance, I was ready with my secret weapon – a jar of caramel ice cream topping in the pantry. I’d drizzle that on top of the cake in a spider web fashion and it would look moist and pretty and the eye would fool the discerning tasters.
I needn’t have worried. It wasn’t dry. It was very good. Very, very good. So, next time, I’ll make my own caramel sauce.
As for Mr. Rosemary’s verdict? Since there were two cakes for the crowd that celebrated Liz’s birthday, he opted for the chocolate-mint cake. When he heard other people comment on my cheesecake, though, he said, “Okay, I’ll try a piece.”
“Hmmm,” he said, as his face crinkled in that way I know means he likes it. “This is really good.” -- like he didn’t believe everyone else until he tasted it himself.
I’d call that a win, wouldn’t you?
Blending two recipes – plus winging it a little – works sometimes. And sometimes it doesn’t, I got lucky and have me a keeper.
My marriage of the recipes was a compromise, just like any marriage. One called for an 8-inch pan; I only have a 10-inch springform pan. One said bake longer at 350. The other said to bake at 325 lower but keep in the turned off oven. One asked for 3 eggs, one for 4. I wrote down what I did as I was doing it so, here it is . . . . .
An adaptation based on combining recipes from Joy of Baking and Peter Christian’s Recipes
Serves 10-16 people, depending on how fat you cut your slices!
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup crushed ginger snap cookies (about 10)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons melted butter
! ½ pounds cream cheese (3 8-ounce bricks), softened
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
1/ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ginger
4 eggs, room temperature
¼ cup melted and cooled butter
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup white sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare graham cracker crust and pat into a 10 inch springform pan. Bake in oven 8 to 10 minutes. Cool while getting the filling ready.
In mixing bowl cream well and mix on high speed the cream cheese brown sugar maple syrup and vanilla on high speed. Then add and mix well the pumpkin, flour and spices, scraping often and incorporating all lumps.
Then add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
Finally add the butter. Spread filling in pan. Place an empty cake pan half filled with water on the bottom rack of oven. (This helps add moisture to the baking process.)
Bake for 40 minutes. Meanwhile make topping by blending the sour cream, vanilla and sugar. Remove cake from oven and spread with the sour cream mixture. Return to oven and turn the oven off. Leave cake there with door closed for another 40 minutes. Remove from oven to rack and cool. When cooled completely, refrigerate overnight or at least 4 to 6 hours.