Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake. Turkey Day Delight.

Ah, the post-turkey day sandwich.  It is only after I get my hands on that crusty bread  toppling over with left-over goodness that I can officially say I’ve crossed the t-day finish line.   The days of preparation, a holiday filled with pacing yourself through course after course and then the slow recovery… for me, this holiday is nothing short of a meal marathon.  After an entire day yesterday of being blessed enough to be surrounded by family and amazing food, I had round two this evening and have put this holiday to bed.  Except for the pumpkin pecan cheesecake.  I have an enormous slice in my refrigerator and for some “odd” reason, every time I pick up a fork in my kitchen, the refrigerator door swings open like some secret Harry Potter portal and the fork scoops up a piece as if it has a mind of its own.  Yes, that is exactly what happens… that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

A wonderful aspect of my holidays, or anything in life actually, are the desserts.  Yes, the Thanksgiving meal is typically your standard turkey, stuffing, cranberry, potatoes, etc., but dessert… this is where variety kicks in.  Tasked with dessert this year (again, it’s odd to call it a “task” when it is something I love to do… maybe “assigned” is better), I set out to find three desserts I had never made.  The first was a crumble, and although it as O.K., I certainly wasn’t blown away by it.

What followed, impressed everyone.  The graham cracker and ground pecan crust brought together with a melty salted butter then suntanned in the oven for a few minutes, is then filled with a creamy pumpkin cheesecake mixture.  After a nice long bake in the oven is followed up with a relaxing chill in the refrigerator over night, this towering cheesecake is topped off with a hot praline drizzle, a sifting of confectioner’s sugar and decorated with pecan pie-glazed pecan clusters.

I have three favorite things about this dessert: (i) it is a recipe I stumbled upon without any recommendation, and it is a keeper.  Like finding $10 on the ground; (ii) I was certain this was going to turn out the least tasty of the three desserts I went with, yet, surprise (!) it was the total crowd pleaser – how fun is that?; and (iii) it tastes better each day.  Delicious yesterday, more delicious today.

So, here you are… if you are like me, you will continue using pumpkin recipes until the may flowers bloom… if not, absolutely print this out and get on your fall menu for next year.

Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake

Ingredients.

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature…or warm in a bowl of
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Press mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  2. Beat cream cheese and next 2 ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended and smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add pumpkin and lemon juice, beating until blended. Pour batter into prepared crust. (Pan will be very full.)
  3. Bake at 325° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until almost set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven, with door closed, 15 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven, and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. (Do not remove sides of pan.) Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

Praline Topping

Ingredients.

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions.

  1. Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Boil, stirring occasionally, 1 minute; remove from heat.
  2. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Let stand 3 minutes, whisking occasionally.  Pour slowly on top of chilled cheesecake.

Pecan Pie-Glazed Pecans

Ingredients.

  • 2 cups pecan halves $
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons dark corn syrup

Directions.

  1. Stir together 2 cups pecan halves, 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, and 6 Tbsp. dark corn syrup in a small bowl.
  2. Spread mixture in a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan.
  3. Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes or until glaze thickens, stirring every 4 minutes.  *WATCH THESE each time you stir.  I ended up taking mine out at the 11 minute mark and they were just perfect.  Nuts and sugar are two ingredients that can go from raw to burned in 1 blink.  Make sure to stir each 3-4 minutes and start looking closely after 8 minutes.
  4. Spread in a single layer on wax paper; cool completely, separating pecans as they cool. (For the prettiest garnish, leave some in clusters.)
  5. Once the clusters are cooled completely, decorate your cheesecake in anyway you would like.  I gave the praline topping some time to cool and set before I topped with my pecan clusters so that the clusters didn’t “sink” into the pecan glaze.

RECIPE CREDIT: Southern Living (November 2011)  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/pumpkin-pecan-cheesecake-50400000117060/

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