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For a Twist on Pumpkin Pie, Try John Barricelli's Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin pie is a right of passage for autumn. But for a twist on the familiar, this recipe for pumpkin cheesecake by master baker and HamletHub contributor John Barricelli, owner of The SoNo Bakery & Cafe is light, flavorful, and a crowd pleaser!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Makes one 10-inch cheesecake

Graham Cracker Crust 1-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and then slightly cooled

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Filling:

1 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature for at least 6 hours

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon brandy

1 tablespoon heavy cream

4 large eggs

Directions:

1. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 by 2-inch cake pan; set aside.

2. To make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Using your hands, mix thoroughly until the ingredients come together. Pres teh graham cracker mixture over just the bottom of the prepared pan; set aside.

3. To make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and flour; set aside.

4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of teh bowl halfway through. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar-spice mixture; mix until combined. Add the pumpkin, brandy, and heavy cream; mix until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined.

5. Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Bring water to a boil for a water bath.

6. Place the cake pan in a roasting pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cake pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and pour in the boiling water to come about 1/2 inch up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly in the center, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the water bath and let cool to room temperature. Chill for at least 6 hours, or overnight, in the pan.

7. To finish, heat the bottom of the pan over a flame or an electric element to loosen the crust. Invert the pan onto a 9-inch cake round or large plate. Remove the pan from the cake and invert once more onto a 9-inch round or large plate so that the crust is on the bottom.

8. Cut, serve, and enjoy!

A third-generation baker, John Barricelli graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and has worked at numerous restaurants including the Elms Inn (Ridgefield), River Cafe, Le Bernardin, and the Four Seasons Restaurant. He worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, becoming a featured chef on Everyday Food, and in 2008 he became the host of the spin-off, Everyday Baking. John is the owner of The SoNo Baking Company & Cafe in South Norwalk, Westport and Darien. This recipe is from his cookbook, The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook.

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