november 20, 2019
Pumpkin pie means Thanksgiving. Pumpkin cheesecake is always welcome at the holiday table. Why not combine the two and make a creamy dessert with spiced pumpkin custard hugging a layer of cheesecake? For you fans of make-ahead, this dessert may be frozen.
Freezing ahead also makes it easier to cut precise, clean edged slices, if that matters to you and your guests. If appearance is super important, full disclosure here : this tasty dessert cracked, in a rustic sort of way. Twice. I avoided overcooking and I cooled the finished pie gradually (all the things one must do to avoid cracks), but still—cracked. I embrace imperfection in cooking as long as there is maximum tastiness and that applies to this holiday dessert. If you’re wondering why this is a crustless pie, there are reasons. Truth be told, I have a mental block against making pie crust, so this dessert has a grain free crust of toasted pecans. Easy, easy, easy. If you must have crust, there is no reason you can’t bake the filling in a precooked shell.
Several things are important when making this dessert :
- make certain your oven is accurate; oven thermometers are our friends
- after baking, the center will appear a little wobbly, but the pie will continue cooking as it cools, so avoid overbaking and don’t aim for a firm appearance fresh out of the heat
- toast the pecans whole, not chopped—smaller bits will burn and larger ones will not, so chopping the halves once they have cooled gives uniform toastiness
- spices should be fresh tasting and smelling, since old ones will lend a bitter taste
- that pinch of salt does add flavor and enhance sweetness
- have ingredients at room temperature before baking
This pumpkin pie may be made the week before and defrosted overnight in the fridge for serving the next day. It does last well in the fridge, developing flavor and a more dense texture after a few days. Chilling improves texture, so slice in the chilled state and serve shortly after. A little ice cream or whipped cream improves the nutritional profile of this dessert. Okay, I’m making up that last part, but holiday abundance only happens once a year, so indulge and enjoy.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes eight servings
1 cup pecan halves
8 ounces full fat cream cheese at room temperature
¼ cup cane sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each cloves, nutmeg and ginger
pinch fine sea salt
15 ounce can pure pumpkin
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup half-and-half cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread pecan halves evenly over baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes.
- Tip out nuts onto clean dry chopping board and let cool while preparing rest.
- Using electric mixer, whip cream cheese with cane sugar and vanilla in medium mixing bowl until fluffy (about 30 seconds), then add egg and beat just until blended.
- In a large mixing bowl, use whisk to combine brown sugar, cornstarch and all dry spices.
- Whisk in pumpkin, then 2 eggs, one at at time, blending well with each addition.
- Gradually whisk in half-and-half, blending thoroughly.
- Spray 8 inch round ovenproof baking dish with cooking spray (or coat with firm butter).
- Chop pecans to fine bits, and scatter them evenly over the bottom of the greased dish and a little up the sides as well.
- Pour enough pumpkin mixture to evenly coat the bottom of the dish, then add the cream cheese mixture in tablespoon dollops, covering the bottom but avoiding the far edges.
- Cover cream cheese mixture with remainder of the pumpkin and smooth top with spoon.
- Bake for one hour; top will appear a little jiggly, but pie will continue cooking off the heat.
- Cool thoroughly to room temperature before refrigerating.
- Let sit overnight or up to several days before serving; cut slices in the chilled state and serve chilled.
- Pie may be frozen and defrosted in the fridge the day before serving.