PUMPKIN-PECAN CHEESECAKE

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I discovered Southern Living magazine on a family road trip through the south to visit my mother-in-law’s family in southern Georgia. During one of our many stops for gas, I wondered to a magazine rack, searching for a new read for the trip, and was drawn to the cover of Southern Living. After a quick skim through the pages, I purchased the magazine and when I returned home to Boston, I ordered a subscription. Thirty years later and I continue to feel enthralled by the pages of this magazine.

If you are a novice or even more experienced cook, the pages are packed with ideas for food, entertaining, decorating and traveling with an irresistible southern vibe. Hospitality is the core of the southern style of entertaining. And I learned on that long-ago trip, the pineapple is the symbol of hospitality. Pineapples can be found throughout my home decor and at Christmas, I decorate over my front door with Williamsburg Christmas fan containing a pineapple surrounded by red apples.

The recipes populating the pages of Southern Living are clear, concise and easy to duplicate. I made this cheesecake recipe with one change, I added pumpkin pie spice and my guests raved about the taste.

 

CHEESECAKE

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

 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

PRALINE TOPPING

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 

1/3 cup whipping cream 

1/4 cup butter

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Garnishes: coarsely chopped Pecan Pie-Glazed Pecans, fresh sage leaves

Preheat oven to 325°. Stir together the 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.

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.)

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 the door closed, 15 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven, and gently run a knife around the outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of the pan. (Do not remove sides of the pan.) Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

Remove the sides and bottom of the pan, and transfer cheesecake to a serving plate. Prepare Praline Topping; immediately pour slowly over the top of the cheesecake, spreading to within 1/4 inch of edge. Garnish, if desired.

Praline Topping

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. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Let stand 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Use immediately.

Enjoy!

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