Vanilla cheesecake is a blank canvas for incorporating luscious, even unorthodox details. Substitute ricotta for cream cheese, swap a rich almond crust for standard Graham crackers, infuse the filling with exotic spices, and your plain old cheesecake is suddenly avant-garde.
You can read volumes on perfecting cheesecake and follow complicated directions ranging from slow-baking at irrationally low oven temperatures to incorporating eggs by a precise method, but really a few simple rules will suffice:
This Pumpkin Molasses Cheesecake marries two prime flavors of fall—sweet pumpkin and rich, aromatic molasses. Use a mild, light molasses, made from the first boiling of sugar cane, for this cake. Dark molasses (made from the second boiling) and blackstrap molasses (made from the third boiling) are not as sweet as mild, light molasses.
Pumpkin Molasses Cheesecake
1 1/4 cups Graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
3 (8-ounce) packages light cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup canned pumpkin
2/3 cup heavy cream
Maple syrup (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. To prepare crust, combine crumbs, pecans, sugar and butter in a large bowl. Press evenly on bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
3. To prepare filling, in a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add sugar, eggs, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and molasses; beat until evenly blended. Beat in pumpkin and cream. Pour into crust.
4. Place pan on baking sheet. Bake 50 minutes or until nearly set. Turn oven off and leave cake in oven with door closed 1 hour.
5. Remove from oven and run a knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.
6. To serve, remove springform side. Drizzle with maple syrup if desired. Serves 14.
Recipe by Jean Kressy
Per serving: 290 calories, 19g fat, 95mg chol., 7g prot., 27g carbs., 1g fiber, 290mg sodium
Look for Relish magazine, celebrating America’s love of food, each month in Tooele Transcript-Bulletin. For more Relish recipes, go to relish.com.
Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn