Pumpkin cheesecake with easy peasy caramel sauce
When the nights are long and bleak and the wind is howling all around, there is only one thing to do…invite friends round for dinner!
This recipe is actually made from butternut squash, a vegetable only recently introduced to Selfoss, a lovely town in the south of Iceland. This version of pumpkin cheesecake is adapted from a recipe I recently plundered from the McCormicks website. I was searching for ‘butternut squash ideas’ so that I could introduce my Icelandic friends Aron and Gunna to this lovely and somewhat under-used vegetable. If you can find a 15oz/425g tin of unsweetened pumpkin purée, use that instead of steaming/roasting the butternut squash. Most recipes ask you to drain the cooked pumpkin for a couple of hours or overnight, I did neither (forgot to actually) and the cheesecake was still a huge hit. It did though need an extra 10 minutes in the oven, perhaps that was the reason. I served the cheesecake with a very quickly made caramel sauce and freshly whipped cream. It both looked and tasted fabulous. Like all cheesecakes, this one is best prepared and baked the day before and positively enjoys an overnight sojourn in the fridge. For the best results, make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature before you begin. A light dusting of icing sugar won’t go amiss just before serving. Makes one 9in/23cm cake. Serves 10-12.
Ingredients: for the crust: 220g of biscuit crumbs (ginger nuts, digestive or graham cracker), 50g butter melted. For the filling: 400g butternut squash purée made by peeling and then steaming or roasting a small/medium butternut squash (remove all stringy bits and any seeds), 300g cream cheese, softened, 140g firmly packed dark brown sugar, 3 large eggs, 1 tbsp flour, 2 tsps vanilla extract (not essence),1 rounded tsp allspice*, several chunks of finely chopped stem ginger in syrup (optional, but very good).
**If you can’t find allspice, combine equal parts of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper.
Method: Preheat oven to 180°/350°. Lower oven temp by at least 10% if using the fan. Generously butter a 9in/23cm springform cake tin, line the base with parchment paper if liked. For the crust, mix all ingredients in a bowl until the crumbs are evenly coated with the butter. Press firmly into bottom of the prepared tin. Chill crust until needed in the fridge. To make the filling, lightly whisk the cream cheese, brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin purée, flour, vanilla and allspice until smooth – do not overwhisk. Pour into prepared crust. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is lightly browned and centre is almost set. Remove from oven and let the cheesecake cool in its tin. When cool, run a small knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
For the caramel sauce: melt 210g of vanilla sugar in a large pan, when completely melted and caramel brown in colour, add 85g of butter, whisking well. Be extremely careful, as the mixture will foam and rise up the sides of the pan. Once incorporated whisk in 120ml of double/whipping cream, again watching out for the foaming action of the mix. Whisk until smooth and pour into an airtight container. Will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
To make vanilla sugar: place 1-2 vanilla pods in a large pot of castor (superfine) sugar. Leave for two weeks and then use as normal in all baking that would benefit from the rich, sweet aroma of real vanilla. As you use up the sugar, simply top us as required. I had a pot that I refilled for almost seven years with no loss of flavour.