Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite parts of the holiday season are the warmly spiced pies. As a kid, I didn't used to like apple pie, but I've always been a fan of pumpkin or sweet potato pie. I would make it all year round if my family would help me eat it. So, pumpkin or sweet potato pie in some variation or another is a must on my Thanksgiving table. This year, I made this pumpkin mousse cheesecake that is basically a pumpkin pie and cheesecake all in one, but is not a pumpkin cheesecake. I like the fact that the two desserts are layered rather than completely combined so you can taste each component, but it still works beautifully together.

I was more than pleased with this recipe from Brad Farmerie. Not only is it delicious, it's also super simple to put together, much simpler and quicker than an actual pie or cheesecake. It's also very impressive looking and can be done ahead of time. Instead of graham cracker crumbs, I used speculoos cookie crumbs and really loved the spice that it added. You can really use any crisp cookies you like.

I also modified the pumpkin mousse part, using whipped cream instead of whipped egg whites since I didn't really want raw eggs in it, but do what you like. I've made Ina Garten's pumpkin mousse in the past with great success, so I based this pumpkin mousse off of that one. I'll have to add that recipe here when I get a chance. Anyway, I really recommend giving these bars a try if you'd like a pumpkin dessert but not necessarily a pumpkin pie, you'll be glad you did.

Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from Brad Farmerie
Makes one 9 x 13 inch pan

2 cups cookie crumbs (graham crackers, speculoos, gingersnaps, etc.)
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Butter a 9x 13 inch baking dish. Combine the cookie crumbs and the melted butter. Press into the prepared baking dish and set aside while you prepare the cheesecake layer.

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, room temp
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld mixer and a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese, salt, and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until well incorporated. Spread the cheesecake mixture over the crust and bake for 20 min. Let cool completely.

Pumpkin Mousse
1 1/4 oz envelope of powdered gelatin
1/4 cup water
1 15 oz can pure pumpkin puree
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup heavy cream

Fill a small bowl with the water and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften.

In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, mix the pumpkin puree, milk, sugar, egg yolks, salt, and cinnamon together for 10-12 min until it thickens and reaches about 158 deg F. Off the heat, add the softened gelatin and mix until combined. Let the mixture cool to room temp.

Once the pumpkin mixture is cool, whisk the heavy cream in a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or by hand until it reaches soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture. Spread the pumpkin mousse over the cooled cheesecake and refrigerate at least 8 hrs, preferably overnight.

Serve from the fridge with additional lightly sweetened whipped cream if desired. Cheesecake will last wrapped in the fridge up to a few days.

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