Way down here in New Zealand Halloween is only just becoming a bit more of a thing, still not huge, but these days kids do dress up and go door-knocking around the neigbourhood 'trick-or-teating' and teenagers have a few themed dress-up parties. Back in the dark ages when I was growing up, Halloween was just something we saw on American TV shows - a distant, foreign, alluring holiday, filled with lollies (that's candy to some) and crazy horror costumes. Likewise, Thanksgiving is an all-American celebration, and not one that anyone else in the world observes (that I know of!?), but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy some of the classic festive dishes that are eaten at that time of year. Some of them are just too crazy for me (please - what is this marshmallow-topped sweet potato with savory business?) but some like beautifully seasoned roasted turkey followed by pumpkin pie (or in this case cheesecake) are just the ticket. So even though we don't keep the same traditions, I thought I would post this recipe, which I put together and photographed for the lovely Dish magazine's international issue. This is a 'from scratch' version of spiced pumpkin cheesecake - no tins (cans) will be harmed in the making of this dessert!
It is particularly ironic to be posting this today, a kind of 'harvesty' autumnal recipe on what feels like the first actual day of spring in Auckland - the sun is shining, the birds are tweeting (they actually are) and there is a fly buzzing around the window... Whether you are like me, considering exposing your snow-white legs in shorts for the first time in many months, or just fossicking in the back of the wardrobe to find your woollies, I hope you'll enjoy this recipe, it's a real family favourite :)
750g peeled, de-seeded pumpkin, cut into 6cm chunks
2 tablespoons maple syrup
250g Gingernuts or similar biscuits
45g melted butter
875g cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups caster sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 tespoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons custard powder
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and line a roasting dish with baking paper. Put in chunks of pumpkin and drizzle with maple syrup then cover with tinfoil. Bake for 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. While the pumpkin is cooking line the base and sides of a 23cm removable base cake tin with baking paper. Whiz gingernuts in a blender, add butter and whiz a bit more until smooth crumbs. Pour into prepared baking tin and squish down with your hands, then smooth out with the back of a tablespoon. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Reduce the temperature to 150˚C (300˚F). Chop pumpkin up a bit to get it to cool down faster then put in the blender and whizz until really smooth. Give it five minutes to cool down more then add cream cheese, sugar, spices, salt, maple syrup and custard powder and blend again until smooth. Lastly add eggs and pulse briefly to combine it all, then you can pour it onto the base. Give it a tap on the bench to open up air bubbles then bake for 1 hour until it still has a bit of wobble in the middle. Allow to cool in the oven for at least two hours before removing. Cool further on the bench then pop in the fridge to cool completely. Remove from the fridge half an hour before serving. Serve with bourbon spiked whipped cream or as is. Serves at least 10.
Labels: autumn, dessert, favourites, halloween, spring, Thanksgiving, winter