Pole Dancing, or Cheesecake?

How’s that for (link) bait? ;-)

In honor of something a little goofy that I said over at Cre8asite Forums about writing ideas, I’m offering an upgrade from pie. Here’s a 100% original, made-up-by-yours-truly-in-a-past-life recipe for a cheesecake that has been served in ritzy restaurants.

Where’s the pole, you ask? I’ll leave that up to your imagination. Seriously, though, if a SEO/M conference after-party can have pole dancing… hey, what’s a little cream cheese, and sugar, and rum in a blog post?

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cheesecake filling:
2 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice and cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons dark Meyers rum, optional

5 eggs
About 16oz well-drained pumpkin puree – a 15 ounce can (1 3/4 cups) is fine

For crust and garnish:
crushed gingersnaps
toasted pecans or hazelnuts
whipped cream

Optional topping:
1 1/2 cups sour cream mixed with 2 Tablespoons sugar

Butter a 10″ spring form pan. Dust with crushed gingersnap cookies. I you like, press a 1/4″ layer of crushed gingersnaps and toasted hazelnuts or pecans into the bottom of the pan. Leave dry or moisten with a little melted butter, and bake just long enough to set and color.

Combine dry ingredients with cream cheese. Do not whip. Incorporating air will encourage cracking and make a less creamy cheesecake. Add flavorings, then slowly add eggs one at a time. Stir in pumpkin puree.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for between 60 and 85 minutes. Time to bake will depend on how cold your ingredients are. To test, gently giggle the pan. The center should wiggle, but have lost that jello-like quiver. The surface should be dry.

If a sour cream topping is your thing, remove the baked cheesecake from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before spreading on the topping, then return to the hot oven for another ten minutes. I like to skip the sour cream, in favor of the wanton festivity of whipped cream.

To minimize cracking, move a baked cheesecake directly from the oven to the refrigerator.

Refrigerate at least 12 hours before removing from the pan.
Serves about 16

Enjoy! My favorite way to present this is with a little drizzle of rum on one side of the plate and a healthy “wallop’ of unsweetened whipped cream on the other. Complete the effect by connecting the two sides with a trail of crushed, toasted pecans, or of gingersnaps if they are good.

Variation: Sweet Potato Cheesecake

Cheesecake filling:
Add about a Tablespoon of orange zest
Replace rum with bourbon
Replace pumpkin puree with an equal amount of cooked, mashed garnet yams.
Omit allspice, cloves and nutmeg
Add 1/2 tsp each ginger and cardamom

For crust and garnish:
Dust pan with ground, toasted pecans.

Nice with a graham cracker crust that is about half pecans, or with a pecan-studded sugar cookie crust. Use any shortbread cookie recipe, with half the usual amount of sugar and butter, adding as much chopped, toasted pecans as you like.

Prepare and serve as for pumpkin cheesecake. If you’re feeling extra decadent, drizzle a little bourbon on top of the hot cheesecake as you pull it out of the oven. If you’re feeling extra extra decadent, go for a little too much vanilla bean ice cream instead of that wallop of whipped cream. Also nice is a plate-side garnish of bourbon-spiked orange marmalade.

Happy Holidays!