pumpkin spice cheesecake

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here’s a bit of a twist on an old favorite. the last time I made pumpkin cheesecake was at least two years ago, so for this year’s friendsgiving, I decided to dust off an old favorite.

one of my friends had never celebrated thanksgiving before(!), and what a first thanksgiving it was for him: a group of good friends cozied up against each other in the living room, eating way too much food and playing a few too many rounds of cards against humanity.

compared to last year’s friendsgiving, when the guy who brought the turkey totally undercooked it and we all had to pretend we were eating it while surreptitiously dumping it in the trash, this year, the food was all incredible. personally, I was happy because I got to do a test run of the recipes I plan to make for my family’s thanksgiving (something I should have done last year, when I tried to bake pie for the first time in a year, totally screwed up the first time, and had just, just barely enough ingredients and not at all enough time to do it all over.) we were all totally stuffed by the end of the evening and it took an immense amount of effort to finally lift ourselves off the couches and make our way out the door.

I’m still trying to capture that perfect graham cracker crust, but for me, honey & co‘s comes a bit closer to my ideal – a thick crust made with toasted, finely chopped hazelnuts instead of pecans. compared with the crust of the pumpkin cheesecake I made before, it’s a bit crumblier, a bit softer, and there’s just something ~fancy~ about hazelnuts that appeals to the bougie foodie in me. this year, I’m particularly thankful to have found a really kind group of friends who love making tasty food and sharing in special dining experiences as much as I do.

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makes one 9-inch cheesecake

hazelnut base
100g (3/4 cup) whole hazelnuts
30g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
25g (2 tbsp) light brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
150g (1 3/4 cups) graham cracker crumbs from 9-10 crackers
pumpkin filling
360g (12 3/4 oz) mashed butternut squash from 1 roasted butternut*
375g (13 1/4 oz) full fat cream cheese, room temperature
265g (1 1/3 cups) granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
3 eggs
2 tbsp plain flour
150g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) sour cream
topping
300g (1 1/4 cup) sour cream
50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod

sarit packer and itamar srulovich. honey & co: the baking book. london: saltyard books. 2015.

base|1 preheat oven to 350ºF. grease a 9-in cake tin with a removable base and line with baking parchment.
2 roast hazelnuts for 8 minutes, then rub with a clean towel to remove as much of the papery brown skins as you can. finely chop with a knife or in a food processor.
3 put chopped hazelnuts, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and crumbs in a medium bowl, then pour in melted butter and stir to combine. tip mixture into pan and spread to cover the base. flatten a bit, but don’t compress too much. bake for 10 minutes, then allow to cool.
filling|1 place cream cheese, sugar, and spices in mixture with paddle attachment on medium speed and mix until well-combined. (I used a wooden spoon and mixed by hand.) while continuing to mix, add eggs one at a time. add butternut purée, flour, and sour cream and mix well.
2 pour over base and bake for 25-30 minutes, until sides are just set but center is still jiggly. remove from oven to rest and cool for 10 minutes.
topping|1 mix sour cream with sugar and vanilla seeds until mixture forms a smooth paste. pour slowly over top of baked cheesecake (make sure you do not pour it all in one spot, otherwise it will sink in!) use back of spoon or small spatula to spread evenly over the top, then return to oven for another 10-15 minutes.
2 cool in fridge for at least 6 hours (or overnight) before cutting and serving.
 
*I used 1 15-oz can of pumpkin purée, reduced in a small saucepan over medium-high heat for ~20 minutes until it weighed ~360lb.
** this recipe baked up surprisingly well in a cupcake tin; it made ~24 (with just a bit of crumbs and filling left over). I used ~1 tbsp crust pressed into a cupcake liner, then filled 2/3 of the way with cheesecake filling, then baked for 13-15 minutes.

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