I made this cheesecake a week in advance of the dinner I was hosting for Nathan Cullen because I knew I would be out moose hunting right up until the day he was to arrive. I was a bit apprehensive about how it would turn out because I had never made a butternut pumpkin cheesecake before, and I did not have a recipe to follow. But, having fiddled with cheesecake recipes before I knew that cheesecake is both flexible and forgiving. In addition to these qualities (not to mention it’s sumptuousness), the fact that cheesecake freezes well is just another one of it’s–more than–seven wondrous features.
Having gone to the work of preparing a dessert, I was disheartened when, on the night he was to arrive, a friend (who had eaten with Cullen before) told me, “He’s not much for sweets.” Always a good source of trivia, she had made mental note of the fact that he didn’t eat any of the sweets served on that occasion. Deflated, but not discouraged, “Well, maybe he’ll like cheesecake” I ventured.
With this in mind, I wasn’t expecting Nathan to eat any. However, I wasn’t too concerned that I’d be left with a whole uneaten cheesecake at the end of the night: I knew one friend I’d invited would have difficulty stopping himself at one piece!
As I was getting the dessert out of the fridge, Nathan excused himself from the conversation, joined me in the kitchen and asked if there was anything he could do to help. Not one to turn down such gracious offers, I thrust the hand blender at him and searched for a bowl to whip the cream in. “How much?” he asked as he poured the cream into the bowl. Level decided, he went to work on the liquid as I tossed in some vanilla and sugar, and we continued our conversation over the whir of the beaters.
Whipped cream ready, he returned to the table and served up the cheesecake slices with generous dollops of cream, passing them around the table before setting himself up with a respectable piece.
After swallowing his first bite he looked up, face revealing a mixture of wonder and disbelief, “Wow, this is delicious!” He took a second bite and as if the puppet master of his eyes, his eyebrows shot to the crest of his forehead and maneuvered expertly across it making his eyes dance between the slice of cake on his plate and the various people around the table, “Who made it?”
I was charmed by his lack of presumption (as to who made the cheesecake) and felt a sweet butternut pumpkin victory as I answered his question, “I did… I even grew the squash myself!”
HDR’s Butternut Pumpkin Cheesecake
1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup graham crackers or ginger snaps, crushed into crumbs
Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in crumbs. Press into ungreased 9″x9″ springform pan and bake 350°F for 10 minutes.
2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 – small butternut pumpkin, steam cooked and peeled
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Beat cream cheese and sugar together well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in remaining ingredients being sure to blend in the pumpkin pieces well. Blend until there are no lumps left. Pour over crust Bake 350ºF for 50 minutes or until firm.
Chill and garnish with whipping cream. Sprinkle a bit of nutmeg or ginger on the whipped cream if desired.
NOTE: to make it low carb, omit the crust and replace some or all of the sugar with sugar substitute.