Monday, November 24, 2003

Sensational Easy-To-Make Pumpkin Cheesecake

My autumn potluck dessert this year is an extra-easy-to-make pumpkin cheesecake. Our Friday night family group raved about it, and my family jockeys for the last piece. Mix together 16 oz. of cream cheese (softened to room temperature), a half cup of canned pure pumpkin, a half cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of real vanilla, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and ground cloves and nutmeg to taste. When mixed well, add 2 eggs, and mix again until blended to a smooth consistency. Pour into a crust, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. The cheesecake is done when a small sharp knife comes cleanly out of center.

Crusts made from gingersnaps, Oreo cookies or graham crackers all have an amazing taste synergy with pumpkin cheesecake. Store-bought crusts actually taste fine, but homemade is a bit richer. Crush plenty of cookies (remove the Oreo filling and crush only the chocolate wafers), combine with a half to 1 cup of sugar, and moisten with melted butter. Press into a pie plate.

Cheesecakes must be refrigerated overnight to have the proper texture. After it has set overnight, top with crumbled gingersnaps, Oreo coookies or a graham cracker streusel, to match the crust. For a richer touch, top with pecan pralines or hand-dipped chocolate walnuts. For an even richer flavor, stir a half cup of miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips into the batter, and sprinkle the top with even more chips.

Guaranteed to be the most popular dessert at your family Thanksgiving or church potluck.

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