Once upon a time my husband worked for the North American racing division of a German car manufacturer. Working for a German company had its perks. One of which was access to their products, i.e. fast cars. The company offered a lease program to its employees for a price we couldn’t pass up. We couldn’t lease a modest Honda for the deal we would get on this fancy, fast car. So we decided to take advantage of a company benefit.
Our car arrived and my husband had to go out of town for work. Which left me to break in the car. We were living in Southern California at the time and my mom and her husband were in town visiting. We decided it would be fun to go wine tasting in the Santa Barbara area. Then my mom and her husband would continue their drive north to the Bay Area. So our caravan made its way up the Pacific Coast Highway, which is where I got used to driving something so unlike the cars of my past.
The three of us had a great day of wine tasting, capped off by a beautiful meal at Bouchon. For those of you who are familiar with California restaurants, this Bouchon is no relation to the well known Thomas Keller bakery/restaurant of the same name. The dinner was lovely, but the dessert was the highlight for me. A pumpkin cheesecake that isn’t too sweet and highlights the flavor of the star ingredient isn’t easy to find. Bouchon’s version forgoes the usual cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice that usually mask the taste of pumpkin.
I finished the cheesecake and took a chance and asked our waiter if the restaurant would be willing to share its recipe with me. They not only obliged, but printed it out on Bouchon letterhead for me.
I know, I know, the holidays are pretty much over. But I want to share this recipe with you because it’s a nice dessert to enjoy throughout the fall and winter. I usually make it for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or both.
My kitchen notes
Don’t be afraid of making a cheesecake, it’s a lot simpler than many people think it is.
If you like whipped cream on your cheesecake, it pairs well with this version, although I usually serve it without.
Sometimes I like to use chocolate wafers instead of graham crackers for the crust, as you can see in my version pictured below. If you opt for chocolate, follow the same directions listed for graham crackers.
Pumpkin Cheesecake – adapted from Bouchon in Santa Barbara
1 1/2 pounds (3 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 pound mascarpone cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, crushed
4 tablespoons melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a food processor, grind graham crackers until crumb-like texture. Add about 4 tablespoons melted butter and mix thoroughly in a small bowl.
3. Butter bottom, sides and rim of an 8-inch springform pan. Press graham cracker crumb mixture evenly around bottom of pan and about a 1/2 inch up the side of the pan.
4. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed for 4-5 minutes, or until smooth. Add sugar and continue to beat until dissolved, about 4 more minutes. Add flour, pumpkin and mascarpone cheese and beat just until just incorporated. Add one egg and beat for 1 minute. Egg will loosen ingredients in the bowl. Then add one egg at a time and continue beating until smooth. Continue scraping bowl throughout the process.
5. Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan. Place pan in a Pyrex or roasting pan and fill with enough water that comes halfway up the cheesecake pan.
6. Bake on center rack for about 60 minutes. Top should appear puffy and slightly browned. When cheesecake is done, turn off the oven and open the oven door halfway and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 45 minutes. This will help ensure your cheesecake won’t crack in the middle.
7. Continue to cool on a wire rack. Store in refrigerator to cool completely before serving.