Pumpkin Cheesecake with Brown-Butter Pears (from Food & Wine)

Every month I will be choosing one recipe from Food & Wine and testing it here. This month I  chose Pumpkin Cheesecake with Brown-Butter Pears. The gingersnap crust really makes this recipe zing and please. I will definitely make it again. The recipe was printed in Food & Wine who gives credit to Paulino’s Bar and Pizzeria in Manhattan. According to Food & Wine, the restaurant uses homemade gingersnaps and Robiolina Italian cheese. I should have used homemade gingersnaps— the ones I bought from the store were rock hard and I don’t own a Cuisinart. Needless to say, my crust turned out “rustic” (but still delicious).

My cheesecake came out paler and shorter than the Food & Wine photo. Perhaps their pumpkins were a deeper color and they used a smaller springform pan or doubled the recipe. I roasted my own pumpkins for puree and probably could have roasted them a little longer and that might have effected the color. Either way, the cheesecake was a success. One last opinion. . .I’m not sure the pears really add to anything besides the presentation here. In fact, they sort of detract from the amazing flavor of the cheesecake. I’ll make it without the pears next time.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Brown-Butter Pears

Adapted From:

Food & Wine 2011

From Paulino’s Bar & Pizzeria

Cheesecake Ingredients:

  1. 8 ounces gingersnap cookies, crushed
  2. 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  3. Salt
  4. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  5. 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  6. 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  7. 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  8. 2 large eggs
  9. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  10. 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  11. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Pears:

1.  4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2.  3 large, ripe Bartlett pears—peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges

3.  1 teaspoon sugar

MAKE THE CHEESECAKE:

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, pulse the gingersnaps with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and a pinch of salt until fine crumbs form; add the softened butter and process until moistened. Using your fingers, press the gingersnap crumbs into the bottom of a buttered 9-inch springform pan in an even layer; brush any crumbs off the side of the pan. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, until it is lightly browned. Let the crust cool slightly, then wrap the the bottom of the pan tightly in aluminum foil so it’s watertight. Set the pan in a large, deep skillet or a small roasting pan.

Rinse out the food processor bowl and wipe it dry. Add the softened cream cheese, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar to the food processor bowl and process for about 30 seconds, or until smooth. Add the eggs and pulse to blend. Add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and process for about 30 seconds, or until smooth. Carefully pour the pumpkin filling over the gingersnap crust. Set the skillet in the oven and carefully pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for about 55 minutes, until the filling is barely jiggly in the center. Carefully transfer the skillet to a rack and let the cheesecake cool. Remove the aluminum foil and refrigerate the cheesecake until it is firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

PREPARE THE PEARS:

In a large skillet, cook the butter over moderately high heat until it is lightly browned and nutty-smelling, about 3 minutes. Add the pear wedges and cook, turning once, until they are softened and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and cook, turning once, until the pears are lightly browned and glazed, about 1 minute longer.

Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cheesecake and remove the springform ring. Cut the pumpkin cheesecake into wedges and serve with the warm pears.