So you know how when it’s late and you’ve got four readings to do for a presentation in front of about 12 people the next morning which you’ve not started, you decide to make a cheesecake? Yep, I do that too. In fact, believe it or not, that’s the very thing I did last night. Small world, isn’t it?
I’d never made cheesecake before, but how hard could it be? Recipe looked simple enough.
This was proof that simple instructions doth not a simple task make. Yes I made the olde-sounding quote up. I thought it sounded good.
So…. CHEESECAKE :D
That which you see above is, as the title of this entry suggests, (deep breath) Toffee Pumpkin Gingernut Cheesecake. Even just one of those words before “cheesecake” would make me drool, the thought of this made my brain explode.
That being said, I first came across the recipe that this is based on way back in 2008. In fact, it was the first post on a food blog that I ever read. I mentioned this to my mother when I rang her up to gloat that I had cheesecake, shocked and amazed that it was three years ago that I started reading food blogs, when it seems like yesterday. I asked her could she believe that I’d wasted three years of my life on the internet (wasted as in, they’ve flown by and I’ve not actually done anything productive >_>’), and she just sighed and said, “Yes Anna, I can.” And then was jealous about the cheesecake.
The original version of this cheesecake is the Pioneer Woman’s Caramel Pumpkin Gingersnap cheesecake, which can be found HERE. Mine differs in that the shop only had toffee sauce, and the ginger biscuits I bought were gingernuts, not gingersnaps (I know, it makes sooo much of a difference).
Anyway, the recipe for this cheesecake asks for pumpkin purée, which from what I’ve heard is pretty easy to get in America. I’ve never seen it here, and I did look for it – you only really hear of people using pumpkins around Halloween though, and usually to carve. That’s the only time of year I get to eat pumpkin pie normally, and before this year (I’m going orange-coloured vegetable mad at the moment) I’d never eaten pumpkin in any other way. So obviously, because I had a heck of a lot of work and it was getting to late afternoon, I decide to go and buy a pumpkin and make the purée myself.
The instructions I discovered after browsing several websites seemed very simple. Wash the pumpkin, de-seed it, chop it up, roast it for 30 mins, blend it, sieve it. Easy.
Ha, ha, ha, Anna you were so naive.
To start with, the instructions told me that once the pumpkin was roasted, it would be really easy to scoop it out of the skin. Wrong. Because it’d been steamed (they said to put some water in the base of the roasting tray), the skin was soft, and gah it took me ages. I think I probably should have roasted it for longer, but they said 30 mins was all that was needed, and I was on a very tight schedule. We have a mini-blender, it’s height comes to just above half way the length of my hand. After I managed to skin the pumpkin and chop it up, I then spent absolutely ages trying to get it all blended. We really, really need a normal sized one. Then sieving… well it took me a lot less time than my soup did the other week, but still… the instructions told me this was a very easy non-time consuming task! Lies.
I have no pictures of any of the stages of the recipe since I was feeling a bit frazzled and was too covered in pumpkin to trust myself to pick up the camera, so here’s another picture of the finished product.
Doesn’t it look lovely?
The actual cheesecake-making wasn’t too bad at all. In fact, it went really well. To start with I had to make the base (and because of the shape of the dish, mostly the sides). This was done by crushing up just under 400g of gingersnaps – just under because my flatmates stole a few before hand), and 100g of pecans. Mix them together with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and a dash of salt. Then melt about 100g butter in the microwave and add that to the mixture. Stir (or use your hands, so much fun) until it’s all combined and just starting to stick together, then pour into your bowl. The Pioneer Woman’s recipe calls for a 10-inch springform tin, but I didn’t have one of them, I had a pyrex casserole dish. So use what ever you think the cheesecake will go well in. Press the mixture into the base and up the sides, until you’ve got a fairly level covering of gingernsnap crumbs. Mmm I can still taste it now.
Place the bowl/tin with the base into the fridge for 30 mins whilst you do the next bit.
There’s cheese. Lots of cheese. Soft, cream cheese. Mmm.
So now we need four 8oz packets of cream cheese. If you live in the UK, that’s 3 and 2/5ths packets of 250g cream cheese. That was the standard size packet I found. Put all of this into a large mixing bowl, and 1.5 cups of sugar (that’s up to 360ml in a measuring jug if you, like I did last year, have no idea how much a cup is). Now beat :D. The original recipe says to use an electric mixer, but I found that after leaving the cheese out of the fridge for a bit, it was fairly easy to beat by hand. Beat until light and fluffy. If you want to steal a spoonful, it’s gooood.
Next add 360ml of your homemade pumpkin purée. The original recipe says that if you’re using shop bought, you only need a cup – maybe it’s more concentrated? Then I added 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and a generous 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spices. Original recipe doesn’t use so much cinnamon and no mixed spices, but it uses allspice, which I couldn’t get hold of. Mix some more. Then add in four large eggs, one at a time.
So add egg, mix. Add egg, mix. Repeat.
Add in 100ml double cream (or 2 tbsp if you want to be more healthy. I had cream to use), mix until it’s just combined, and take the crust out of the fridge. Grab your toffee icecream sauce (icecream sauce because it’s soft and didn’t cause the crust to go rock-solid) and cover the base in it. I tried to get some to go up the sides, but it didn’t really work – just caused some of the crumbs to fall down and it all slid back onto the base anyway. Chop/crush another 100g pecans and sprinkle these onto the toffee, then grab your bowl full of filling and pour. Into the bowl, obviously. I hope you didn’t just do it straight onto the table. That’d be silly.
I had too much for my casserole dish, so I poured the remainder into a pyrex bowl and baked it along side the cheesecake. But I forgot that you don’t need to cook smaller things for as long, so it overbaked and seperated :(.
Place the cheesecake into a pre-heated 350F / 175C oven (I have a fan oven, so I had it at 160C), for one hour and fifteen minutes. If you’re going to do this exactly how I do, put it in at 11:15 pm when you’re already tired. That’s fun.
Once it’s cooked, it should be slightly wobbly, but not liquidy. Take it out and let it cool for 30 mins. I really wanted bed by this point, so I didn’t let it cool for 30 mins. I let it cool for 15. The next step is to cover the top in more toffee sauce. If you let it cool properly, I imagine that the toffee sauce would stay on the top. I put it on whilst the cheesecake was still fairly hot, and left it overnight, so all my toffee soaked into the cheesecake. Which was fine with me. Finally, put it in the fridge and let it cool properly. You have yourself a cheesecake!
Now look. Appearance doesn’t always matter. That which you see above is not a perfect slice of cheesecake. At least, it doesn’t look like one. Because mine was cooked in a pyrex bowl, it’s had to stay in the bowl – I can’t get it all out in one piece. So I’m partly-cutting and partly-scooping out portions, hence the mess it looks. The thing I really wanted to point out though is the colour. Mine’s not orange. The Pioneer Woman’s is.
I think this is purely down to the pumpkin purée. Jarred purée seems to be more intense in colour, and I also think it possible has to do with the type of pumpkin used. When mine roasted, it went white (although the water in the pan was darker, so some of the colour may have come out then?). It still tasted like pumpkin, it’s just not orange. It’s still delicious.
It makes enough for about 12 people, and only two of us in the flat are eating it. I’m going to hate cheesecake by the end of this week. But it’s sooo good. Trust me. Don’t trust me? Make some yourself. Just not when you’ve got a presentation due in the next morning.