Tag Archives: pumpkin cheesecake

Water Bathing the Pumpkin Cheesecake

16 Mar

 The last time I made the pumpkin cheesecake, I made the ultimate cheesecake faux pas. It cracked. Badly…

So how do you prevent a cheesecake from cracking?  It’s so simple.  Waterbath!

First, you just put some aluminum foil around the base of your springform before pouring in your cheesecake.  I usually use 2 layers.  The goal of this is to prevent any water from leaking IN.


This is the perfect time to do some doublechecking that you have a pan to set your springform in (it’s a lot harder to figure this out once its filled).  I usually use my roasting pan.

Then you pour in your cheesecake filling and set the springform in the bigger pan.  Next, you put about 2 inches of water into the bottom pan.  My understanding is that the water keeps the cheesecake from getting hot too quickly and then from getting cold too quickly. 


Once you bake it according to the recipe, rather than taking it out of the oven immediately, turn the oven off and crack the door.  Let that cool for about 30 minutes to an hour (or until you can remove it with your hands).  Then put it on the counter to cool for about an hour.  THEN put it in the fridge.  Yes… it’s a process,  but this version looks so much better:


And what’s that on top you may ask? Oh just some sweet glazed pecans.  They are easy to make and fantastic as just a snack or as a topping for many things (especially pumpkin cheesecake).  All you do is heat 1 Tablespoon each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with 1/2 cup brown sugar until it bubbles.


Then toss the pecans into the mixture and toast it for about 6 minutes, stirring constantly, until the pecans are toasted and most of the liquid is absorbed.


Then you can turn them out onto a Silpath (or parchment paper/foil/etc) and separate them with a fork.  Cool to room temp (in the fridge to speed it up) and enjoy. 


Top Recipes of 2010

31 Dec

Before going into the Top Nom Restaurants of 2010, I wanted to share with you my favorite recipes that I discovered and came up with in 2010 (click on the links for the recipes):

Best Brunch Recipe: Crustless Ham & Egg Tarts

Best After Work Dinner: Chicken Stuffed with Grapes, Hazelnuts, and Parmesan Cheese

Best Weight Watchers Recipe: Weight Watchers – Chicken Tagine with Apricots

Best Seafood: Scallops Lime & Vine

Best Odd Protein: Ostrich Steak

Best Chicken Recipe: Zuni Chicken & Bread Salad

Best Side: Corn Fritters

Best Desserts (You know I couldn’t pick just ONE):

Homemade Crunchie Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Meringue Minis

Banana Faux Ice Cream

This year has taught me, above else, that the best cooking comes from reckless abandon.  Throw caution to the wind and spices in your pot.

Happy Nomming!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

15 Dec

When a coworker’s birthday arrives, I always try to bake for the office.  It gives me a great excuse to bake and not have to eat it all.  For one coworker, Sam, I gave him a blank slate to choose what he wanted.  His choice: Pumpkin Cheesecake.  Wise choice, Sam.  Wise Choice.

I didn’t have a recipe that I loved, and usually actually wind up making no-bake cheesecakes (I usually prefer their texture).  For his, however, I did some searching around online to see what I could come up with.  My typical method for coming up with recipes is to check out some highest rated ones around the internet (AllRecipes.com is great), go to some of my most trusted resources for recipes (Food Network, Pioneer Woman, and Smitten Kitchen to name a few), then combine my favorite parts of each and my past recipes to come up with something a bit more Sara.  When I saw this recipe from Paula Deen, however, I decided to try it as-is.  And boy am I glad I did!  This was the best graham cracker crust I have ever tried.

You combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon and then add melted butter.  This is pretty much the same set of ingredients as every graham cracker crust, however, the proportions and texture is just perfect.


Then you press it into the bottom of a springform pan.


And if you want to make a sample for yourself and your boyfriend to “make sure it tastes okay” before cutting into the big one the next day… fill the bottom of a non-stick baking cup.   


Next for the filling, you need cream cheese at room temperature.  It’s amazing how long it takes cream cheese to get to room temp, so I used the kangaroo pouch in my apron to speed it along.  (TIP: Take your cream cheese out a few HOURS before you start) 


Then you fill the springform with the combination of blended cream cheese, pumpkin puree, eggs (both full and yolks), sugar, spices, and sour cream (which I think really added a perfect flavor!)  The one edit I made is that I added more spices, since I love the flavors of fall.  I honestly could have probably added even more. 


Then I put the same filling into the cups.


 And set the whole thing to bake at 350 for 1 hour. (Or 30-35 minutes for the mini cups).


Then let it cool for 15 minutes before slapping yourself in the forehead.  Why?  Cheesecakes are finicky little things.  They just LOVE to expose their fault lines as they cool.   Every other cheesecake I’ve ever baked I have put in a water bath (which regulates the temperature so it doesn’t crack as it cools), and I just plum forgot.  D’oh! 


Honestly?  No one cared and it still tasted MARVELOUS!  I don’t think I would change a thing about this recipe with the exception of a bit more allspice and clove.


And what would a Sara dessert be without a homemade schlag to go with it?  I thought a salted carmel schlag would compliment the pumpkin cheesecake… so I looked up a recipe and found out that it was basically just making caramel, adding salt, then adding in the heavy cream, letting it cool and then whipping it up.  Easy-peasy!

Unfortunately, however, my pot has a hot spot and it kept burning in one corner.  Damn.  It was still delish though!


I added the cream once it browned…


 And the cool cream instantly made it into cracked caramel sugar.  But a few spins over medium heat and it blended nicely into a delicious base for whipped cream.


 And the minis?  Well… a bit overcooked.  I did it for 45 minutes, so probably more like 30-35 would be better (cheesecake shouldn’t brown, and should be a little loose in the middle).


 But they popped out beautifully.


 And made a perfect bite with the whipped cream.


This is a fantastic recipe.  And a TRUE crowd pleaser.


Pumpkin Pie
(Borrowed with hardly any changes from Paula Deen via FoodNetwork.com)



  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted salted butter


  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (I would make this 1/4 or 1/2 tsp. depending on your love of cloves and possibly also add 1/4 tsp. Allspice)
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For crust:

In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

For filling:

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.