Pumpkin Cheesecake, Part II…the leftovers

As I mentioned, I had quite the large amount of leftover filling from the pumpkin pie cheesecake. Not wanting it to go to waste (I hate waste) I thought the perfect solution would be mini galettes, with cheesecake filling and sliced apples. Since Martha’s crust was amazing (see recipe below) I put together another batch, and split it into 6 portions. Each portion was then rolled out, dolloped with filling and topped with apples which I had mixed with a little sugar, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon (think apple pie filling)

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contrary to what you may think, that is not a bite taken out of the bottom left tart.

I greased a cookie sheet and baked them for about 35 minutes on 400. Success. Opposed to the cheesecake where there was not enough crust IMO, in these galettes the crust was the superstar. Especially the bits where it was folded over creating a nice cookie-like texture. 

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Since I still had enough filling to fill a small swimming pool (swimming in cheesecake batter would be a little gross) I needed something else. Brownies perhaps? But no, since my crazy family does not like overly dense, chocolatey, sickly sweet things (I know, right?) A google search for cookies turned up cheesecake thumbprint cookies which I used as my inspiration. 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies, modified from Bake or Break

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • scant 1/2 c sugar (between 1/3 and 1/2)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 T coco powder
  • 1 t cinnamon 

Method

  • preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  • add the salt, vanilla, and egg yolk and mix well to combine
  • add the flour, coco and cinnamon and mix to incorporate. the dough should come together. don’t mix too much.
  • roll into a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  • roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and use your finger (or another object) to poke indentations in each cookie ball

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  • bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, re-poke cookies and bake again for 8-10 minutes until just barely golden on the edges. 
  • remove from oven and let them cool (mostly completely cool)
  • use a teaspoon to fill the cookies with cheesecake filling and return to the oven for 10-12 minutes until the filling doesn’t jiggle and looks…done. sprinkle with cinnamon, if you so desire. 
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see the one thats gone missing? its in my belly.

After all of this baking, I still have more cheesecake filling. help?!

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

When your sister requests a pumpkin cheesecake for her birthday, you are not NOT going to make a pumpkin cheesecake. Even if you don’t have the correct size springform pan. Even if you do not have a KitchenAid. If a pumpkin cheesecake in the middle of February seems wrong, I am here to tell you that there is no wrong time to make and eat a pumpkin cheesecake.

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pumpkin cheesecake and moscow mules

I had my friend Martha Stewart (just kidding, she is not actually my friend, I just used her recipe) help me out with this one, and of course there were a few tweaks made. After spending to much of my time at Whole Foods lamenting over the inability to buy individual sticks of butter, I was finally ready to start the process.

First, the crust. Not a press in crust made with store bought cookies, but a roll-out-yourself crust made from scratch and tasting faintly of sugar cookie. As in, I would make this crust into cookies and eat them.

Ingredients (for crust)

  • 6 T unsalted, softened, butter
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 t vanilla (or a dash more, if you are me)
  • 1 C flour (yes, I used white AP flour)
  • dash o’ salt

Method (the original recipe instructs one to use a stand mixer. I however mixed by hand, while standing)

  • cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  • mix in egg yolk and vanilla.
  • add flour and salt and mix until the dough just comes together. flatten into a disk and wrap in wax paper and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight (because of my time crunch I went for 30 minutes)

Part II.

When rolling out crust I like to do it in between 2 sheets of lightly floured wax paper. 1) it prevents a huge mess on the counter 2) it makes transferring it into a pan slightly easier.

  • lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 10″ springform pan. Preheat oven to 350.
  • in between 2 sheets of lightly floured wax paper, roll out the dough into a 10″ disk, about 1/4 of an inch thick. This should fit nicely into the bottom of your 10″ springform pan. Or, if you are me, it will fit more than nicely, with a little bit of extra going up the sides.
  • freeze the crust for 15 minutes. Then bake for 12-15 minutes until its “firm and pale golden”
  • remove from oven and let cool (completely is ideal, or nearly completely will work too)

Part III. The filling. Where the ancient electric hand held mixer begins to smoke and smell really funny.

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2 batters

Ingredients

  • 1 C pumpkin puree (I used the canned variety)
  • 1.5 t pumpkin pie spice (in retrospect, MORE)
  • 2.5 lbs cream cheese at room temp (or, if whole foods is out of CC, 2 lbs CC and .5 lb neufchatel cheese)
  • 1 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 3/4 C sour cream (any ideas for what to bake with leftover sour cream?)
  • 1.5 t vanilla
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 5 eggs

Method

  • preheat oven to 325. wrap the outside of your pan with 2-3 layers of aluminum foil. this is to prevent water from seeping into the pan when you bake your cheesecake in the water bath. the water bath adds moisture in the oven and helps prevent cracks. also grease the sides of your pan once more.
  • in a small-er bowl mix pumpkin puree with spices. set aside.
  • cream the cream cheese until light and fluffy. this need not be an arduous process if you have the proper mixing equipment.
  • gradually add the sugar and flour until smooth. add the sour cream, vanilla and salt mixing until incorporated. add the eggs one at a time until just combined. be careful not to over mix. over mixing once the eggs are added introduces more air into the batter, which makes it more crack-prone once baking.
  • stir 2 C of cream cheese mixture into the pumpkin mixture.
  • pour most of the cream cheese mixture into your cake pan. use a spoon to dollop the pumpkin mixture all over. top with a few spoons of cream cheese mixture. use a butter knife to swirl everything together in figure 8 patterns. if you over-swirl, you will end up mixing everything together. you really just want the top to look pretty.
  • put the cake in a large, shallow roasting pan, and fill with 2-ish inches of boiling water. bake for 55 minutes to an hour (or more if needed) until the cake is set with a slightly wobbly center. turn off the oven and crack the door, letting the cake sit for an hour. remove from oven (at this point i removed took the cake out of the water bath and removed the foil) and chill on the counter top for another hour. you will see the cake shrink slightly away from the sides of the pan. after the hour I removed the sides of the pan and put the cake in the refrigerator for 3 hours until we sang happy birthday.

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the cake was a great success. I loved the crust so much that I may use it for pie at some point, I wish it was thicker than 1/4 inch. The cake itself was great and not overly sweet, but I would have liked more of a pumpkin flavour (yes, flavour with a ‘u’). I think more spices and perhaps more pumpkin puree would have done a nice job. In fact, some cinnamon in the crust would have been great. I’ve also got some leftover filling since my pan was small than 10″, so perhaps mini cheesecakes are on the way.

Chez Panisse

I remember my first time seeing the little house that is  Chez Panisse and how much I wanted to go there, and thinking that when I graduate that is where my family will go to dine. And then there was a fire and it shut down for several months. So much for that.

However, anniversaries being the celebratory occasions that they are, there was no better place to celebrate.

Chez Panisse opened in 1971, with the philosophy that the best food comes from the best ingredients. This was before everyone was talking about local, organic, sustainable food and so Alice Waters can be thought of as a pioneer in the ever growing “food movement” (defined however you see fit). From the beginning the restaurant served a set menu, changing daily based upon the seasons. The upstairs cafe however, offers an a la carte menu, where diners are welcome to pick from a few assorted dishes. It was in the upstairs cafe which we dined.

I have never been treated so well in a restaurant, but again, I am not one to frequent fine dining establishments. It was a very comfortable atmosphere, and I was not talked down to or made to feel ignorant when I asked questions about the wine (and which one I should get since I had absolutely no idea). The vegetarian main option for the night was a Comte Souffle with wild mushrooms, spinach, and celery root. Using this as the springboard of the night, I settled on a grapefruit, fennel and butter lettuce salad as an appetizer since the bright citrus would compliment the rich, creamy souffle.

The three ingredients in the salad, tasted as they should, drizzled in a light olive oil and lemon vinaigrette. The thin shavings of fennel were not to overpowering, and I don’t think I’ve ever had grapefruit quite as sweet and aromatic. Once appetizers were cleared, along came the main course. I’ve never eaten souffle before, and I am generally not one to opt for rich, creamy dishes. But this…was light and airy, cheesy, and slightly browned on top. There was only a touch of cream on the rim of the plate, and under the pile of spinach were a few pieces of celery root, which I think I am now obsessed with. Sweet and earthy. Of course I ate all of it.

Despite my increasing fullness, I naturally had to have some dessert. After our main course was cleared, and the crumbs swept off our table (seriously), I contemplated the dessert menu. I was to full for chocolate cake, but what caught my eye was persimmon pudding with bourbon caramel and creme chantilly. Thats right. I was so sad a few weeks ago thinking I would have to wait until next year for something persimmon-esque to come my way, but here was something! And with bourbon caramel, what could go wrong? Nothing. It was delicious and sponge-y and sweet. The slight bitterness and bite from the bourbon caramel was cooled with a dabble of creme chantilly.

It was worth every penny. Not only the delicious food, but also knowing that I was supporting a place that sources well and pays living wages. Hobbling down the stairs, belly full and happy, I wanted to turn right around and do it all over again.

*unfortunately I have no pictures. I was not about to bust out my phone mid meal. Um, rude. But instead, I offer you a picture of dinner that I made.

not chez panisse

not chez panisse

back.

With it being 2014, and me being done with school and simply working and having spare time to fill, I thought it might be an appropriate time to restart this thingie. Its also an appropriate time to make a new year’s resolution that I will post at least once a week. And since resolutions are made to be broken, it wont be catastrophic if that does not happen. But I hope to keep you entertained with commentary about my adventures in the bay area. I will spare you from reading all the (very interesting) details from the past several months, and just say that life is rolling merrily along, and that despite having a diploma, I still find myself constantly thinking: “I have no idea what I want to do”. I thought I would have epic epiphanies while at Cal, but the only epiphany I have had is that I want to do “something food related” yet that something is still formulating. And perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned, is being comfortable in the discomfort of not knowing. Its hard and I am not always good at it.

I am thankful for the things I’ve got: a place to live, good company, family, and a job that I like. But as a goal oriented person, its difficult to not have a goal which I am actively working towards. While (attempting) to live in the moment, and enjoy my daily activities, there is a constant nag of “what are you going to do?”. Of course, silencing that nag with a rash decision is not a good decision, and so I sit here, biding my time.

So stay tuned for what I do while I bide my time.