1 November 2008

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Walnut Topping

We are an international group of bloggers and cheesecake means many things to many people. When you think of cheesecake what do you envision?

An American cheesecake generally relies on cream cheese which was invented in 1872 as an alternative to French Neufchâtel. There are many different styles... New York , Chicago, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania-Dutch style cheesecakes. The difference between them being in the height, texture and cheese used.

I even read there was a Canadian-style cheesecake...WHO NEW????...called Vancouver- style. It is a light, airy cheesecake made without a crust, primarily in vanilla and chocolate and often served refrigerated with various local fruit toppings such as British Columbia strawberries, raspberries and cherries.

In Britain, Australia and New Zealand, cheesecake is a rich creamy dessert, neither cooked nor baked, which is served chilled and made with a biscuit crust. Italian-style cheesecakes use ricotta or mascarpone cheese and are typically drier than American styles with small bits of candied fruit often added. French-style cheesecakes are very light and get their light texture and flavor from Neufchâtel cheese. Greek-style cheesecake commonly uses Mizithra cheese or Mascarpone cheese. Swedish-style cheesecake or ostkaka are not layered and traditionally made by adding rennet to milk and letting the casein coagulate...it is then baked in an oven and served warm. German-style cheesecake or Kasekuchen uses quark cheese, adds cream and is not baked either. Dutch/Belgian-style cheesecakes are typically flavored with melted bittersweet chocolate. Brazilian-style cheesecakes usually have a layer of goiabada (guava marmalade).

As you can see the possibilities are endless under the one banner of "What does cheesecake mean to me?" No matter.. I will always love cheesecake of any style, flavour and texture. I have no prejuduces when it comes to cheesecake and give all a good chance to win me over!!!!!!They are all delicious in their own right!!!

A common difficulty with baking cheesecakes is its tendency to crack when it is cooled. This is because the beaten eggs coagulate in the batter. There are various methods to prevent this. One way is to bake the cheesecake in a hot water bath to ensure even heating. Other methods include blending a little cornstarch into the batter to prevent the coagulation of the eggs or baking the cheesecake at a lower temperature and slowly cooling it in the oven that has been turned off and leaving the door ajar. If all else fails cover the top of the cheesecake with toppings such as fruit, whipped cream, cookie crumbs....or in this case nuts. For some reason my cheesecake did not crack this time around.

Another common problem, particularly with baked cheesecakes, is that the biscuit base becomes too soft. For extra crunch, replace around a quarter of the crushed biscuits with Grape Nuts cereal.

Also do not overbake your cheesecake or it will become dry.

In honour of the season I felt like baking a flavourful pumpkin cheesecake. It brings to mind cool nights, long walks to explore the colour of fall or sitting by a cozy fire with a good book, wrapped in a blanket...and a plate of cheesecake...mmmm!!!

This makes a large cheesecake so grab your fork and be prepared to share!! It is the pumpkin cheesecake recipe I always use. Despite the fact that it uses 5 eggs and 3 blocks of cream cheese it is surprisingly light. The walnut topping was an added touch this time around. I omitted the caramel sauce ..it was sweet enough just the way it was.

**Pumpkin Cheesecake with Walnut Topping**

For Crust:

2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (I use Anna's Ginger Thins from Sweden)
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

For Filling:

3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 large eggs
1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin filling)
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ tsp Ground Allspice

Walnut Topping:

6 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.Place cookie crumbs, and 3 tablespoons sugar in a food processor and pulse 3 - 4 times until combined; add butter and pulse 4 - 5 times, or until crumbly. Wrap the outside of a 10-inch spring form pan with aluminum foil, then press cookie mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides. Bake 8 - 10 minutes. Cool crust completely on a wire rack.

Reduce oven heat to 325F. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer at medium speed 3 minutes, or until creamy. Gradually add brown sugar and the 3/4 cup granulated sugar, beating 4 minutes, or until blended. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Remove and set aside 1 cup of batter. Add pumpkin, whipping cream, and cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Beat on low speed of an electric mixer just until blended. Do not over beat. Pour batter over prepared crust. Dollop reserved batter in a circular fashion and draw a knife through to create a marbled effect.Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until almost set (it will jiggle in the centre).

To make walnut topping: Combine ingredients. Sprinkle baked cheesecake with walnut topping. Bake cheesecake an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from oven; run a knife around edge of pan. Cool on a wire rack 1 hour with a large bowl inverted on top of cheesecake in pan to prevent cracking. Chill 8 hours or overnight. Serve with caramel sauce if you wish or whipped cream.

**Caramel Sauce**

1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup whipping cream

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat; add brown sugar and corn syrup, then cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Gradually add cream, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature.

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  1. That cheesecake looks awesomely good! A real treat! Yummy!



  2. Thanks for the run down on all the different cheesecakes Val...I've def learned something! This is a great combination of ingredients really utilising the best of fall ingredients.

  3. Val,

    that cheesecake looks better that a lot of cheesecakes I've seen in stores recently. I did not know that Canadians had their cheesecake. I always learn something new everyday.

    Congrats for the much deserved Award!

  4. That's a gorgeous cheesecake, Val! And, I love all of your background info. Who knew that cheesecake was such a universal and versatile thing!

  5. WoW!! I loved all the information about cheesecakes from different countries! This cheesecake looks wonderful, I can see this adorning my Thanksgiving table! Great post!

  6. Oh my gosh, you used ginger snaps for your crust! Y.U.M.! Let me say that again. YUM! This sounds so good. I know that phrase gets used a lot, but it really and truly applies here. This cheesecake sounds so heavenly with the pumpkin and cinnamon! I love the marbled effect your mention. And that caramel sauce ... I'm so ready for some of this! Really great post! And, congrats on your well deserved award!

  7. That is a must for a Thanksgiving dessert! Oh so tempting, I could not resist a piece! It looks so pretty against the tree and leaves.
    Love the photo Val!

  8. Oh Val this is wonderful! This looks like a cheese cake I saw about 5 years ago and then couldn't find the recipe for!

  9. Thanks for the tips to prevent that annoying cracking. Sometimes I add finely chopped almonds to the crust to keep some crispness. I like the Grapenuts suggestion too. What a beautiful fall dessert.

  10. Love all the cheesecake trivia Val...lapped it up greedily! When I think cheesecake, I whink 'wish we got creamcheese here'. Yours looks fantastic...& seeing it, I'm thinking, grab a fork & join the party!! Congrats on the award from sweet Ivy!

  11. I just made a pumpkin bread using most of the ingredients you used in this recipe - the smell of pumpkin spiced with cinnamon is intoxicating!

    Thanks for the comments about the teaching system - you're right, you can talk to the teacher and make her change too, but in Greece, I'm sure you'll need to do that at least three times (and get other mothers to complain about the same problem!) for the message to sink in. This time, I just let it pass; the teacher probably wouldn't have believed that my child had done her homework on her own!

  12. The topping on the cheesecake looks so scrumptious. Thanks for all the info regarding cheesecakes.

  13. I LOVE cheesecake. Thak you!

  14. That cheesecake looks scrumptious! Great info on all the many kinds of cheesecakes out there!

  15. When I think of cheesecake I think of this. Just beautiful Val, I love it.

  16. Cheesecakes are one of my favourite desserts and I would eat it with any kind of cheese you have mentioned. I must try this one as I have never made one with pumpkin.

  17. I would love to slice into this! The walnut topping is particularly appealing, both for the sweet crunch as well as a means of concealing my inevitable cheesecake cracks :-)

  18. I had no idea there were so many variations of cheesecake! It's like Pizza!

  19. First off ,your new banner photo is breathtaking.

    As for cheesecake...had something like this last year...pumpkin works really well with cheesecakes, savour this, the slices will go fast.

  20. I don't eat dessert very often, but I can't resist cheesecake. What a gorgeous creation Val!

  21. That cheesecake looks lovely. Thanks for such an interesting post on cheesecake.

  22. Come on! You're killing me!
    I am so making this.

  23. Hmmm, not entirely sure about the British cheesecake - I know a lot of people in this country who will tell you that a cheesecake is baked, full stop. Anything that requires no baking and is refrigerated is a fridge tart! Both have their place though :)

    And funily enough, I had pumpkin cheesecake for the first time on our recent trip to the USA! What a fantastic concept - thanks for reminding me that I really do need to try it myself.

  24. i had no idea there were so many forms of cheesecake! fortunately for me, i'd like 'em all. your creation here is particularly appealing--that topping sounds fabulous!

  25. awesome looking cheesecake, I will try hard to get in on this thankful event, as I am very thankful form many things, including all the interesting bloggers around the world I continue to come in contact with, like you Val.

  26. Lovely Cheesecake.....love the walnut topping

  27. I enjoyed your write up about cheesecakes, Val, who knew there was a Vancouver version??
    We're having a little pumpkin party over at UtHC, your lovely cheesecake would feel right at home. Maybe we can swap!!

  28. That cheesecake looks and sounds so good!

  29. I'm with you - I love cheesecake any way I can get it - and this one looks fantastic!

  30. That cheesecake looks amazing Val!! I have submitted my dish for WFD today via email to you and Ivy :)

    Rosie x

  31. I don't see that anyone caught what must have been a typo. 4 teaspoons of cloves?? I didn't catch it until after I've made it :( It's very strong. After looking back at other recipes, I assume you meant 1/4 tspn.

    1. Yes you are right A this was a typo, and it has been changed. Thank you.


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