Most always ‘what’s for supper’ is something that I make up as I go, or is a modification of a recipe I currently have or recently learned about.
I never seem to cook the exact dish twice as my available ingredients tend to vary, especially in the summer when veggies and herbs from the garden are available.
For the most part, I am at ease with the art of cooking. It is one of the few things I feel I do well at. But, there are a few dishes/desserts that I find intimidating, and cheesecake is one of them!
There are so many steps, variations and techniques to mastering a good, New York-style cheesecake. Some advise you to preheat the oven, start cooking your cake at a very high temp and then turn the heat way down part way through. Many suggest submerging the cheesecake in its springform pan in a bain marie (water bath). Some use 5 packages of cream cheese, others less. Same goes with how many eggs to include, and so on.
The only constant in making a good cheesecake is that there is never flour as an ingredient and it is always a big investment of time and money with a high risk of fail!
I began making this pumpkin cheesecake using ingredients that I thought would work well; knowing that if it failed, it was not a big deal. I wasn’t making it for any specific event and no one in my family was counting on it. It turned out amazing! I want to share with you all.
First, prepare graham cracker crust by putting 2 sleeves of crackers in food processor until they become fine crumbs. If you want, you could add in a favorite nut to the mix. I actually threw in a handful of hemp seed hearts to give a bit of a nutty flavor and add a bit of nutrition. Continue to spin the processor while drizzling in a stick plus 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom and up the edge (just a bit) of a springform pan. Put in the refrigerator while you prepare the batter below.
Beat 3 packages of softened cream cheese, scraping sides of bowl as you go.
Add one 15 ounce can of pumpkin purée, beat, scrape sides, beat again.
Continue to add following while mixer is on low:
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, one at a time
¼ cup of your favorite vanilla yogurt (mine is Cabot, triple cream Greek)
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
And an additional ¼ teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg
Pour this mixture on top of the crust, place springform pan on a baking sheet and put into a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Check by jiggling the sheet, if center of cheesecake shakes like Jell-O (not liquid), it should be cooked enough. Do NOT make same mistake I did and touch the middle of the cake. It will crack (as shown!).
Once done, shut oven off and leave in for an additional 10 minutes. Then crack oven door and leave for another 5 or 10 minutes.
Take out and let cool on rack for half an hour. Then (still in springform pan) cover with plastic and chill for at least 6 hours in the fridge.
When completely chilled, check to be sure edges are separated from the pan. If not, gently glide around edge of pan with a butter knife before carefully unhinging the form to reveal the cake.
You can use sour cream in place of the yogurt and add a splash (1/4 to ½ tsp) of vanilla.
You can use gingersnaps or vanilla wafers as in place of the graham cracker.