September 30, 2014
Nancy’s Pumpkin Cheesecake
Varietal: Dessert Wines: Late-Harvest Riesling
Serves 8 to 12
With all the recent interest (some might say hysteria) about pumpkin flavorings in foods and beverages (e.g., Starbucks Pumpkin-Spice Lattes, Pumpkin-Spice Oreos, and even Quaker Foods Pumpkin-Spiced Instant Oatmeal), I thought we were long overdue in looking back at this recipe from Nancy Nipples, longtime proprietress and “head milkmaid” at The Pike Place Market Creamery.
Nancy suggests making her special cheesecake a day or two before you plan to serve it to allow the flavors to meld and intensify. I like to “frost” it with my invention—Rum Cream—for an added layer of decadence, but that is entirely up to you.
The rich, spicy cake pairs perfectly with the medium to viscous texture of a good-quality Late-Harvest Riesling. These wines often exhibit aromas and flavors of apricot and tropical fruits (pineapple!), honey and caramel, flowers and almonds, lovely counterpoints to the seasonal cake.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 1/4 cups firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about six 2 1/4-by-4 3/4-inch crackers)
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
One 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Rum Cream (recipe follows), optional
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Sift the flour with the pumpkin pie spice and reserve.
2. To make the crust, in a medium mixing bowl stir together 1 1/4 cups of the brown sugar, the graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, and cinnamon. Add the butter and stir until well mixed. Pat the crumb mixture on the bottom of the prepared springform pan and about halfway up the sides. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
3. To make the filling, place the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat at low to medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add the remaining 1 cup brown sugar, beating well after each addition, then add the reserved flour and mix well. Add the pumpkin and vanilla and blend thoroughly.
4. Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared crust and bake 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake 1 hour, or until the top is light brown and slightly puffed. Turn off the oven and leave the cake in the oven an additional 20 minutes without opening the oven door.
5. Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack, and cool completely. Refrigerate at least overnight or (preferably) for 1 to 2 days. Just before you are ready to serve, frost the top of the cake with Rum Cream, if desired.
6. To slice the cheesecake cleanly, dip a long, sharp knife in hot water, wipe off the blade, and slice. Repeat this process between each cut, using a spatula to remove each wedge to individual plates.
Makes about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
1. Chill a small mixing bowl and a whisk. Add the cream and confectioner’s sugar to the bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Stir in the rum and use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.