Pumpkin Cheesecake

pumpkins

Last week I complained that I never get the opportunity to make desserts like this because my husband is not a fan of pumpkin anything. My home group crew saved the day when they selflessly volunteered to eat what ever pumpkin dessert I wanted to make. With all the great recipes to choose from, I decided on one I have never eaten or made. It’s been a couple of years since my last cheesecake (also a really great Fall dessert), so I hoped that this one would be worth making. Cheesecake is one of the more time-consuming desserts to make, not to mention the overnight stay in the refrigerator; but all that waiting paid off because this was a hit with everyone who tried it. It tasted better than I could have hoped! The cheesecake is so creamy and light and there was just a hint of cream cheese flavor, but the predominant flavor was pumpkin pie. This is apparently the type of cheesecake that appeals to people who don’t like cheesecake or don’t like pumpkin  pie. Everyone that tried it really enjoyed it and one even said it was better than Cheesecake Factory – what a great compliment 🙂 I made some minor tweaks to the recipe and combined some of My Baking Addiction’s recipe to Once Upon A Chef’s. My Baking Addiction shared a video with great tips to make the perfect cheesecake, like how to ensure that no water seeps into your cheesecake while it bakes in the water bath. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake – adapted from Once Upon A Chef with some tips from My Baking Addiction

For the Crust

  • 2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 14 graham cracker sheets)
  • 1/4 granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

For the Filling

  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground all-spice (*optional*)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1-1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature

For Caramel Sauce – adapted from Kelsey’s Essentials

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel, or kosher salt

For the Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Wrap a 9-inch springform pan twice with aluminum foil (preferably heavy-duty). Take care to pull the foil all the way up the sides so that water cannot seep in from the water bath. Lightly oil the bottom and sides of the pan. Pulse the crackers (or crumbs), sugar and spices in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse a few times to combine. Dump the moistened crumbs into the prepared pan and, using a measuring cup or glass, press into an even layer. Bake until fragrant and set, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

For the Filling

  1. Bring about 4 quarts of water to a simmer in a tea kettle (this will be used for the water bath). In a small, heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, all-spice and salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputter, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, until thick, bronzed and shiny. Scrape the mixture into a large food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 1 minute with the feed tube open.
  2. With the motor running, add the cold cream. Add the cream cheese (cut into chunks) and process for about 30 seconds, scraping the sides if necessary, or until smoothly incorporated. Add the eggs and process for about 5 seconds or just until incorporated (do not overmix!).
  3. Set the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour the batter into the cooled crust, and then pour enough boiling water into the large roasting pan to come about halfway up side of the cake pan. Bake until the cake is just set, about 1-1/2 hours. If it jiggles, it’s not done. Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and set on a wire rack. Use a paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil and set on a wire rack. Continue to cool at room temperature until barely warm, about 3 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

For Caramel Sauce –

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. If necessary, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Transfer the caramel to a dish and cool.
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Snicker’s Cake

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When it comes to making a cake (especially the three layer, super involved kind), I need a good excuse to make one. My husband on the other hand would have liked me to make this because it was a Monday – no real reason and no company to help us eat it. I know better! The last thing we need is a giant cake all to ourselves,  not to mention how selfish that would be 😉

snickers1
I have used this particular chocolate cake recipe many times before, so I knew it would be really good. Also, for quality control sake, I had to taste the fluff and salted caramel I made – so I knew those were also really good. This is definitely not a cake I would have wanted to make in one day because of all the components; also, it’s much easier to work with when the cake layers have been frozen. On Friday, I made the salted caramel and the chocolate cake – let the cake cool completely, wrapped them up individually in plastic and then placed them in the freezer. I made the fluff on Sunday, stored it in a glass container and let it sit on my counter. Monday I made the nougat and I decided to reduce the amount of peanuts added; but other than that modification, I made it as directed. Also, I totally forgot to add the salted caramel to the top of the nougat filling – boo! I figured no one would care especially once i poured ganache and more caramel sauce over the top 😉

Verdict: This cake tastes as good as it looks – maybe even better. All the guests at our Labor Day party really enjoyed it and we only have about 1/4 of it left! 🙂  I’m glad that all that work I put into it paid off, and I’m sure I will get requests for it in the future 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

snickers
Snickers Cake – adapted from Punky Purls via Brown Eyed Baker

For the Cake:

  • 2½ cups AP flour (312 grams)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1  teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil (*I used grapeseed oil)
  • 4½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Nougat Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 1½ cups marshmallow fluff
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup salted caramel sauce
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

For the Milk Chocolate Ganache:

  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) heavy cream

For the Assembly & Garnish:

Directions –

1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).

4. Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

5. Make the Nougat Filling: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Fold in the peanuts. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake. You can do this leaving it at room temperature or you can pop it into the refrigerator to speed up the process. Be sure to give a stir occasionally as it cools.

6. Make the Frosting: Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, but it’s not necessary). Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.

7. Assemble the Cake: If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with half of the nougat filling and then spread a couple spoonfuls of the salted caramel sauce over top to evenly cover the nougat filling. Top with a second cake layer and cover with the remaining nougat filling and top with caramel sauce. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.

8. Make the Chocolate Ganache: While the cake chills, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Begin whisking the mixture in the center, gradually working your way outward until the ganache is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened slightly, yet still a pourable consistency.

9. Garnish the Cake: Transfer the ganache to a 2-cup measuring cup. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. To finish garnishing, drizzle some additional salted caramel sauce over the top and side of the cake, and top with chopped peanuts. Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving.

Salted Caramel Sauce

caramel1

I have never made caramel before, but I watched this episode of Kelsey’s Essentials and decided that this should be easy enough to try. Thankfully it worked out really well and I will use this recipe again. This caramel is destined to become part of the Snicker’s cake that I will be serving on Labor Day. I am also going to attempt making marshmallow fluff from scratch so hopefully that recipe turns out as well as this caramel! 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Salted Caramel Sauce – adapted from Kelsey’s Essentials

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel, or kosher salt

Directions –

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. If necessary, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 7-10 minutes.

Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Transfer the caramel to a dish and cool.

*Cook’s Note: The salted caramel sauce will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Reheat before serving.

Party Mix

This is too good! If you’re a fan of salty/sweet combos, this snack is sure to be a new favorite 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Party Mix – adapted from Food.com

  • 1 (11 ounce) package pretzels
  • 1 (10 1/2 ounce) package miniature peanut butter filled butter flavor crackers (I use Ritz)
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (10 ounce) package M&M’s
  • 1 (18 1/2 ounce) package candy corn

Directions –

1. In a large bowl, combine first 3 ingredients.
2. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, butter and corn syrup.
3. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 5 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and baking soda (mixture will foam).
5. Pour over pretzel mixture and stir until coated.
6. Pour into a greased 15×10 inch baking pan.
7. Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
8. Break apart while warm.
9. Cool completely.
10. Toss with M&M’s and candy corn.
11. Store in airtight container.