Pumpkin Fromage Blanc Cheesecake
with ginger-pecan crumb crust

(serves 12)
recipe by Maggie Foard, author of Goat Cheese, Gibbs Smith, 2008

If you can’t decide between pumpkin pie and cheesecake for your holiday dessert, then this might be the one for you. It’s has all the flavor of pumpkin pie but dolled up in a little black dress! One of the many great things about cheesecake is that it’s flavor actually improves while it sits overnight in the fridge so go ahead and get it out of the way the day before your holiday event. Plan about 45 minutes to prepare it and then another hour and fifteen minutes to bake it. Chill overnight, if possible.

For the crust:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon raw or granulated sugar
3-4 coins crystallized ginger
1/2 cup pecan halves

For the filling:
1 pound Harley Farms Pumpkin Spice Fromage Blanc http://www.harleyfarms.com/
(or 1 pound plain chevre, plus 2/3 cup pumpkin puree and 1 T. pumpkin pie spice)
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
4 large, free-range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven is warming, place the nuts on a small, baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Break the graham crackers into the food processor and pulse until you have coarse, fairly even crumbs. Measure out 1-1/2 cups and place in a medium bowl. Place the ginger, the tablespoon of sugar and the pecans in the same food processor bowl and pulse to mince. Add to the bowl with the cracker crumbs. Melt the butter and whisk in the honey. Pour over the crumbs and stir to mix thoroughly. Press into a buttered 9-inch springform. Wrap the springform tightly in foil. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the pumpkin fromage blanc (or the chevre, pumpkin and pie spice) and beat to soften. One at a time, add the yogurt, brown sugar, maple syrup, then the eggs, beating until smooth after each addition. Finally, add the vanilla and the salt. Once the mixture is thoroughly smooth, pour into the slightly cooled crust and bake for 1-1/4 hours. At this point, the cheesecake should be pretty much set in the center. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door ajar for another half an hour. Remove from the oven and when completely cooled, place uncovered or loosely wrapped in the fridge. Chill completely; overnight if you have time. Run a knife around the rim before removing the outer ring to ensure a clean edge. Serve with a dollop of whip cream for garnish, if desired.

No comments: