Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

bourbon pumpkin cheesecake

For Eric's recent Thanksgiving potluck, I made two desserts: a bourbon pumpkin cheesecake and a pecan pumpkin pie. The bourbon pumpkin cheesecake was the more popular of the desserts: rich and creamy, yet light. (And for those worried, even though I doubled the bourbon, the bourbon flavor is a very light accent.)

I modified Gourmet's recipe, using techniques from Cook's Illustrated and based upon recommendations by the reviewers on Epicurious. Given that my audience would include many local Taiwanese, I was concerned about the sweetness and texture - aiming for something less sweet and airier in texture. I still wanted something rich, however, without any of the floury dryness that so many Taiwanese cheesecakes suffer from.

Neither Costco nor Jason's Supermarket at 101 carried graham crackers, so I used Honey Graham O's breakfast cereal purchased at my local Wellcome. I've heard of others successfully substituting Digestive biscuits for the graham crackers. The canned pumpkin came from Jason's (which is currently carrying the larger 20 oz can from the 15 oz can which they carried last year), where I was also excited to find a little sample bottle of Jim Beam. The cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, and unsalted butter came from Costco. If you can handle the bulk size and earlier expiration date, cream cheese is nearly half the price when purchased at Costco instead of Wellcome.

My modifications: for the crust, besides substituting the sweeter cereal for the graham crackers, I eliminated the white sugar and increased the pecans by 1/4 cup. I also toasted the pecans and pre-baked the crust for 15 minutes. Following the recommendations from the folks at Cook's Illustrated, I blotted the pumpkin on 3 paper towels, with 1 more paper towel on top. I also doubled the bourbon and spices, added 1/4 teaspoon of allspice, and used 2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger for the 1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger called for in the recipe. I put the springform pan on a small baking sheet and baked it over a water bath. Finally, for the sour cream topping, I substituted 10 oz of heavy cream for 1 cup of the sour cream to lighten it.

The next time I make this, I'm not even going to make the crust. Even though I pre-baked the crust, it still came out soggy, which is inevitable with the refrigeration required of the cheesecake before serving. I think I'm going to make everything as is, and then make a sort of "reverse" cheesecake with the crust patted on right before serving. I'll also not bother with a water bath.

blotting canned pumpkin on paper towels to absorb excess moistureblotting canned pumpkin on paper towels to absorb excess moisture

24 oz of cream cheese (!)
24 oz of cream cheese (!)

I doubled the spices, used fresh grated ginger, and added allspice.I doubled the spices, used fresh grated ginger, and added allspice.

A sample sized bottle of Jim Beam for only NT$55 at Jason'sA sample sized bottle of Jim Beam for only NT$55 at Jasons

Pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur...Pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur...

...whisk together to make heavenly cheesecake batter!...whisk together to make heavenly cheesecake batter!

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Adapted from Gourmet

For the crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (or substitute Honey O's cereal or Digestive biscuits)
3/4 cup pecans (1 3/4 ounces), finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For Filling
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin, blotted (see note)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons bourbon liqueur or bourbon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons freshly ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

For Topping
1 cup sour cream (10 oz)
10 oz heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon

Garnish: pecan halves

Make crust:
1. Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create a flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and line the pan with baking parchment.
2. Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugar, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust 1 hour.

Make filling and bake cheesecake:
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur in a bowl until combined.
3. Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.
4. Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Make Topping:
1. Whisk together sour cream, heavy cream, sugar, and liqueur in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 minutes.
2. Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.
3. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and serve chilled.

Note: Blot the pumpkin before using by scooping it out onto a baking sheet lined with 3 paper towels, and cover with another layer or two of paper towels. This will absorb excess moisture.

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