Calling all pumpkin dessert lovers! Much easier to make than a traditional pumpkin pie, this Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe is creamy with a wonderfully unique crust (can be made gluten-free or with gluten). A new recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Table Cookbook. Some great cheesecake making tips too! You’ll definitely want this on your fall and Thanksgiving dessert lists.
One of the first cookbooks I bought after moving off campus in college was the Moosewood Cookbook. I was studying Marine Biology at the earthy University of California at Santa Cruz, wearing wrap around batik-print skirts, indulging in deeply passionate environmental discussions over freshly made granola and trying my hand at a vegetarian diet. The Moosewood Cookbook brought farm and garden to table cooking into vogue without anyone even realizing it.
Today I’m so excited to be sharing the recently released The Moosewood Restaurant Table Cookbook with you. “250 brand-new recipes from the Natural Foods Restaurant that Revolutionized Eating in America”. To be honest I’d forgotten the recipes were vegetarian and vegan, they are so brimming with inspirational flavors and ethnic flare.
For those just learning about Moosewood, the natural food restaurant opened in the early 1970’s in Ithaca New York and has been a significant influence in the natural foods movement. Perhaps the greatest appeal of Moosewood’s approach is creating vibrant vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free recipes that even non-vegetarians love. Case in point, my flashback in thumbing through the beautiful pages of The Moosewood Restaurant Table cookbook; ‘oh yeah’, no meat. The innovative grains and incorporation of more novel vegetables with heady spices creates exciting food, period.
With 250 recipes to choose from (making this cookbook a great value in my opinion), like Thai Corn Chowder, Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lemon-Tahini Sauce, Autumn Pot Pie, Stuffed Poblano Peppers, Turkish Coffee Brownies or Herbed Baked Eggs in Ramekin, how would I choose which recipe to make first? I chose Pumpkin Cheesecake.
Why Pumpkin Cheesecake? I’m feeling lulled by the gold and red leaves fluttering in the chilly wind and something ‘fall’ spoke to me. Also, I felt picking a recipe that HAS been done before gives insight about what makes a cookbook unique.
This recipe did not disappoint. What makes it different than other Pumpkin Cheesecakes on the internet? First the crust. Unlike usual graham cracker crust the Moosewood cookbook’s crust is a mixture of whole oats, pecans (or walnuts; I used pecans), sugar and butter creating what tastes more like an oatmeal cookie than a plain familiar crust. Big points for originality.
This truly is the creamiest cheesecake I have ever tasted or made. I chalk that up to the methodical cooling method. The cheesecake is cooked then cooled in the oven, then to room temperature and then chilled. It has a completely dreamy texture AND no cracking which can happen when a cheesecake is cooled too quickly.
The flavor in this Pumpkin Cheesecake is a perfect mix of a pumpkin pie with abundant fall spices and a cheesecake. Pumpkin Cheesecake would make a wonderful dessert for fall and certainly should be a Thanksgiving dessert consideration. The recipe itself is quick and easy to make. The time involved is really in the cooling then chilling.
I think this cookbook makes a great addition to any cookbook collection, and not just for vegetarians. It will educate through the palate that non-meat dishes can be fabulous, satisfying and fun.
Tips for making a Perfect Cheesecake from The Moosewood Restaurant Table Cookbook:
Cheesecakes have a tendency to crack, but they don’t have to. Avoid overbeating the batter, because overbeating incorporates additional air. Mix the batter well and eliminate cream cheese lumps before you add the eggs. To help with this, bring the cream cheese to room temperature or soften it by unwrapping it and placing it in a glass or ceramic bowl and microwaving for 30 to 45 seconds until slightly softened. Eggs hold air in the batter, so add them last, and mix the batter as little as possible once they are in.
Another cause of a cracked surface is a too-rapid temperature change. If you heat a cheesecake too fast or cool it down too fast, it’s likely to crack. So, bake the cheesecake at a low oven temperature and don’t overbake. When perfectly done, there will still be a 2- to 3-inch wobbly spot in the middle of the cheesecake. The texture will smooth out as it cools.
Cheesecake shrinks as it cools. Hence the directions for a slow, gentle cooling down. And generously butter the sides of the baking pan before pouring in the batter to allow the cake to pull away from the pan as it cools and shrinks instead of pulling apart from the middle.
If, after all this, you still have a crack, and you care what your cheesecake looks like, spread on a topping or a sauce to camouflage the crevasse.
Baked cheesecakes freeze well. First, freeze the cheesecake, uncovered, on the level, and then wrap it securely in plastic wrap and then heavy-duty foil. Do not freeze cheesecakes with garnishes or toppings. Defrost in the refrigerator.
How to make Pumpkin Cheesecake:
"Easier to make than a pumpkin pie, this attractive, pastel orange–colored cheesecake is a crowdpleaser, especially for fall and winter holiday occasions. The delicious crust is gluten-free when made with gluten-free oats. When cooking for someone who has celiac disease, be sure to use oats processed in a gluten-free facility; look in the gluten-free section of the supermarket." -The Moosewood Table Cookbook
- Buter or cooking spray, for the pan
- 1 cup Rolled Oats regular or gluten-free
- 1 cup Walnuts or Pecans
- 1/2 cup Packed Brown Sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter melted
- 1 15-ounce can Pumpkin Puree 1 3/4 cups
- 1 1/2 pounds Cream Cheese room temperature
- 1 cup Sugar, white or brown (note: I used 1/2 cup of each type)
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt note: I recommend Kosher Salt
- 4 large Eggs
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Generously butter or spray a 10-inch springform pan. (See Note.)
In a food processor, whirl all the ingredients for the crust until crumbly. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan and press it to form an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes while you prepare the filling.
In a food processor, whirl the pumpkin, cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Run a rubber spatula around the sides and if there are any lumps of cream cheese, break them up and process again briefly until smooth. Add the eggs and process for a few seconds, just until smooth and evenly colored.
When the crust has baked for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 300°F. Pour the filling into the pan and bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes, until the sides are firm and the center still moves a bit when gently shaken. Turn the oven off, open the oven door a couple of inches, and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool it in the pan to room temperature. Cover it with a plate and refrigerate in the pan until firm, at least 3 to 4 hours, or overnight.
Remove the cheesecake from the pan when you’re ready to serve it. Release the clasp slowly and run a knife around the edges if necessary. Using a long, offset spatula, you’ll probably be able to slide the cheesecake from the pan bottom onto a serving plate, but if it sticks, warm the bottom by holding it over hot water for about 15 seconds to melt the butter just enough to release the crust from the pan.
You can use two smaller (7- or 8-inch) springform pans; the baking time is still 45 minutes. If you use one 9-inch springform pan, bake for 55 to 60 minutes. The height of the cheesecake, not the diameter, is what influences the baking time: the deeper the filling in the pan, the longer the time.
SERVING AND MENU IDEAS Pumpkin Cheesecake is simply and beautifully garnished with a sprinkling of spiced nuts (another recipe in the cookbook). Arrange some fresh apple or pear slices on the side, or if you’d like a more elaborate topping, try a chunky apple or pear sauce, or a cranberry sauce made with whole cranberries.
Copyright © 2017 by Moosewood Collective and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the Moosewood Restaurant Table Cookbook for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.