Thursday, October 30, 2008

Full-Moon Pumpkin Cheesecake

If you are looking for a Halloween sweet with a little more grown-up flare, this treat just might do the trick. This moon is REALLY made of cheese - cream cheese that is with a touch of pumpkin and chocolate! This recipe came from a cookbook that my Mom gave me several seasons ago; America's Favorite Brand Name Holiday Recipes. This book has become a trusted friend during the holidays. Not only does it offer delicious seasonal recipes but it provides wonderful ideas for food presentation and garnishes. Here's what you will need:

Gingersnap Cookie Crust (recipe follows)
4 packages (8oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
1 recipe Black Cat Fudge (recipe follows)

  1. Prepare Gingersnap Cookie Crust; set aside.
  2. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy; beat in sugar and eggs, one at a time. Add sour cream, pumpkin, flour and spices; beat well. Pour 2 cups batter into small bowl, stir in chocolate.
  3. Pour remaining batter into prepared crust. Spoon chocolate batter in large swirls over batter in pan; draw a knife through mixture to marbleize.
  4. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Bake 35 to 45 minutes (center of cheesecake will not be set). Turn oven off; let cheesecake stand in oven with door slightly ajar 1 hour. Cool to room temperature in pan on wire rack. Cover; refrigerate in pan overnight.
  5. Prepare Black Cat Fudge; do not cut. Using a diagram as a guide, cut out witch shape (see Witch pattern on the right side of blog page). Using knife, score as shown in photo. Cut small star shapes from scraps with cutter or sharp knife.
  6. Remove side of pan; place cheesecake on serving plate. With wide metal spatula, carefully position witch on cheesecake as shown in photo. Position stars as shown.
  7. Makes 1 (9-inch) cheesecake. About 15 servings.

Gingersnap Cookie Crust
1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted. (I have found that real butter works best)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine cookie crumbs and nuts in small bowl. Mix in butter.
  2. Press mixture evenly on bottom and 1 inch up side of 9-inch spring form pan.
  3. Bake 8-10 minutes; cool on wire rack.

Black Cat Fudge
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped.
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 ounces (1 pound) confectioners' sugar (about 4 1/2 cups), sifted

  1. Line 11x7-inch pan with foil, extending foil beyond edges of pan; grease foil.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in medium saucepan over low heat; stir in corn syrup, cream, vanilla and salt. Remove from heat and gradually stir in confectioners' sugar until smooth.
  3. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Using foil as handles, remove fudge from pan; peel off foil. Using diagram as a guide, cut out witch. Frequently clean knife with warm water and dry thoroughly to prevent sticking.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pumpkin Almond Bisque in a Pumpkin Shell

For those special Autumn celebrations or family gatherings or those quite fall evenings when you need something to warm your insides, this bisque does the trick.

The medley of seasonal flavor will have your mouth and taste buds slappin' high five! Save the pumpkin shell to serve your delectable dish. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and a leafy celery stalk and you're ready to impress your guests.

Here's what you will need:

1 medium-size pumpkin

3 cups chicken broth, divided

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2 cups half and half

3 tablespoons almond-flavored liqueur

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon black pepper

Salt to taste

Toasted pumpkin seeds (optional garnish)

Cut slice from top of pumpkin. Scoop out seeds and fibers; reserve. Scoop out flesh, leaving shell that can be used for serving. Simmer pumpkin flesh in small amount of the chicken broth until tender. Place cooked pumpkin in food processor or blender container; process until smooth. (There should be 2 cups of pumpkin puree.) Leave puree in food processor.

Next, melt butter in heavy stockpot. Add celery and onion; cook over low heat 5 minutes. Add celery mixture, almond paste and tomato paste to pumpkin puree; process until smooth. Return contents of food process to stockpot; add remaining broth and simmer over low heat, 30 minutes. Stir in half-and-half and cook until heated through. Stir in liqueur, nutmeg, pepper and salt. Pour into reserved pumpkin shell. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and celery leaves if desired. Makes about 8 servings.

Serve with a warm, fresh loaf of crusty French bread. Enjoy!