Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ever tried to make a cheesecake with about an hour of chill time, then travel three hours? Yeah, it's not the best idea, but I'm here to say it's possible!

For Thanksgiving, I had to scramble to make my bourbon pumpkin cheesecake a few hours before Sean and I hit the road to go to the DC area, about a three-hour drive. I used this recipe from Epicurious, which scared me out of my mind with its recommendations to chill the cheesecake for hours in the pan and hours in the fridge. I had about four hours to make this happen...it was a "make it work" moment.

I started by smashing up some graham crackers, adding brown sugar and granulated sugar and melting some butter.

The recipe recommends letting the butter cool, p.s. In the meantime, I buttered springform pan and began preparing the pumpkin mixture.

In a bowl, I mixed 1 1/2 cups of canned pumpkin, three eggs, light brown sugar, vanilla and bourbon. The recipe called for heavy cream, but I didn't have any...every previous cheesecake I've made didn't call for it, so I figured it was okay.

I then mixed the butter into the cracker mix and then pressed it all into the springform pan, pushing the crumbs up the sides. I popped the crust into the freezer until I needed it.

In another bowl, I mixed the dry ingredients for the filling: granulated sugar, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. I FORGOT to add cornstarch...the result was a fluffier, lighter cheesecake texture, but next time, I'll remember it.

I added three packages of cream cheese to the spice mixture, and when that was well-mixed, moved on to adding the wet ingredients.

I added the pumpkin mixture and mixed for a long time until it was smooth. During this time, I preheated the oven to 350.

In another bowl, I whisked 2 cups of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and a tablespoon of bourbon (i actually would go heavier on the bourbon).

I poured the pumpkin mixture into the springform pan and attempted to smooth it over. I then put it in the oven for 50 minutes...keep an eye on it to see when it looks "set" in the middle. Mine started to crack on the outsides — not good. I should have done a water bath, but I just plain forgot.

When the cheesecake was set, I took it out to cool, then spread the sour cream topping on and put it back in the oven for five minutes. After that, you're supposed to let it cool in the pan on a rack for hours, then in the fridge for more hours. But at that point, I was going to be getting in the car in less than 2 hours, so I let it sit on the rack for a little while, then wrapped it in plastic wrap and tin foil and popped it in the freezer.

Ultimately, I packed it in a Bed, Bath and Beyond box full of ice packs and hoped for the best. When we arrived at my in-laws, I put it in the fridge and left it there until I was ready to serve.

Et voila! It was a little lighter than your average cheesecake, but everyone said that was actually a good thing. The bourbon was very subtle, but the pumpkin taste was definitely present. The crust, as always, was the best part. I'm a sucker for a buttery, sugary, graham cracker-y crust.

So, if you learn nothing else from this, know that you can cheat with cheesecake. 

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