I like to say, get a recipe you like and come up with as many variations as possible. I make a chilled (i.e. not cooked in oven) peanut butter chocolate cheesecake, kahlua dark chocolate cheesecake and a white chocolate hazelnut cheesecake, all from my same basic recipe. While cooked cheesecakes are wonderful, too many people overcook them so they are very firm and no longer creamy, plus you have to add on the cooking time and chilling time.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse
An unbaked, chilled cheesecake can be ready in one hour. This is a pumpkin variation. Feel free to alter quantity of spice and change liqueur or leave it out. Refrigeration makes it quite firm, but once out of the fridge for an hour it has a lovely mousse like consistency. The gelatin is needed to keep it together rather than melting on your plate in a warm house.
Method1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together crushed Grahams and melted butter. Press into bottom of a 9-10" greased spring form pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, remove from oven and leave to cool. Or place in freezer.
2. In an 8 cup bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla and bourbon until smooth. If you try this with cream cheese straight from fridge you'll get little lumps of cream cheese. Beat in pumpkin and spice. Taste and see if mix is sweet enough or you want more spice or liqueurs.
3. Heat gelatin and water mix for about 15 seconds in the microwave until you can see that the gelatin is dissolved and has formed a pale yellow almost see through liquid with no visible grains. It is important to totally dissolve the gelatin otherwise it will set into little chewy lumps.
4. Beat gelatin into pumpkin mix.
5. Beat cream until stiff and gently beat into pumpkin mix while still keeping fluffy.
6. Pour into cooled crust and refrigerate about 2 hours or until set. It will soften at room temperature but gelatin will hold it together so it remains firm enough to slice.
7. Finish with 1 cup of cream whipped with 1 tbsp powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tbsp bourbon etc if wanted. Put base of spring form pan into pan so it is held in a 'table' position not a 'bowl' position, otherwise the cheesecake will not slide off base. Or buy a pan with a glass base that cheesecake can be served from.
This makes a cheesecake about 3 inches thick. I find that for parties such as Thanksgiving it is more sensible to divide both the graham crust and cheesecake filling between two 9-10" spring form pans or 2 x 10" pie plates. It is far easier to cut and still give a decent portion. With a deep cheesecake, far too many people cut a large piece, can't finish it and that's a terrible waste.
During the demonstration at the Library there was a discussion about Libby's versus One Pie solid pack pumpkin. Several people said they far preferred One Pie for a pumpkin pie. I had made several cheesecakes for the demonstration, two from Libby's pumpkin for eating at the Library and one from One Pie for the demonstration that then had to chill.
The cheesecake I made with the One Pie solid pack pumpkin had almost a floury, raw flavor to it in my opinion. Perhaps One Pie should always be baked. I honestly don't know.
Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, offers catering from 6-60 people, teaches a variety of classes in International Cooking, and makes regular appearances on WMUR ABC Channel 9's Cooks' Corner. You can contact Oonagh at 603-424-6412.