The Tale of Two Cheesecakes

There are some times when you make something so fantastic and amazing, someone asks you to make it again.  This is my story…the tale of two cheesecakes.  Pumpkin Cheesecakes to be specific.

So imagine this, it’s Thanksgiving week, I am off of work and I have carved out a perfect baking day.  Tuesday before Thanksgiving so if anything goes wrong I have Wednesday to fix it…I’ve had 3 days away from work, so I’m nice and relaxed, I have ensured I have ALL the ingredients I need and I’m patient and calm. This is how the first pumpkin cheesecake was made.

I followed the recipe (see below…it’s easy and delicious) to exact specifications even ensuring the cream cheese was room temperature and all the measurements were perfect.  This was a lovely way to cook a cheesecake, and one of my favorite cooking days.  I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread, Two Pumpkin Pies, a roast for dinner and this Pumpkin Cheesecake.  All of which I had laid out perfectly, I knew which recipe to start with as to maximize my oven’s heat, had all my spices out, and I made all of these items with grace and style.

Seriously, this was one of my favorite days of cooking I have ever had.  Everything came out perfectly, my plan was executed perfectly and on Thanksgiving the family raved about my cheesecake.  So much so, they asked me to make it for the family Christmas.

This is where it all went to hell.

So, here’s the story of how I created “Smoked Pumpkin Cheesecake”.  Lets go back, remember that lovely amazing cheesecake I made?  Well I decided to get a brand new very fancy springform pan with a glass bottom to present the amazing creation again to the Christmas Crowd.  Here’s how this one came to life.

It’s Friday, after many many many long weeks of work.  I’m stressed, I’ve just been charged with a new project and I’ve been working at night, going in early, haven’t had time to work out, and I’m exhausted.  I had a couple glasses of wine at a cookie party my daughter and I had just attended, and we were both zonkered…..you see it was her last day of school before winter break so she was just as pooped as I was…then we went to the cookie party.  By the time we got home and got her off to bed, it was 10pm, she was stuffed full of cookies, I had just enough wine to get to that point where you either need to drink more or go to bed, and that’s when I remembered I had to make a cheesecake for the party on Saturday.

I break out the new pan (being very proud of myself for the anticipated presentation) and grabbed all the items out of the fridge.  I decided it didn’t REALLY matter if the cream cheese was room temp, and went on my merry way.  Well, the measurements weren’t exact (remember the couple glasses of wine?), and a teaspoon of something turned into my version of a splash.  In order to be as efficient as possible I threw the ingredients together, put it in the pan and threw it in the oven.  Proud of myself thinking I put too much energy into it last time, I quickly went upstairs to read a book to our daughter.

After 2 stories, 2 songs, and few extra kisses goodnight I made my way to the kitchen.

I then had the horrible experience of seeing smoke, lots and lots of smoke coming out of my oven and filling up the kitchen. My husband was out (which I was mildly thankful for as I didn’t want him to see this) but then I realized any moment a smoke alarm was going to go off.  I open all the windows and then open the oven to see gunky stuff at the bottom of the oven.  I promptly took this moment to make a bad decision of “cleaning” the oven while it’s on to wipe it up.  I did so, while amazingly not burning my hand off, and shut the oven.  Again, proud of my quick wit, I turned on the fan, opened more windows and had some more wine.

10 minutes later, the smoke returned….one more oven cleaning later with more fans and more open windows, I realize my brand new pan is leaking…all over the oven.

Now, I’m somewhat good in an emergency…but my husband is much better and he’s no where to be found.  I realize I have to do something.  I grab a pan, put it under my cheesecake pan, do my terrible oven cleaning job (it reminds me of what the Witch in Hansel and Grettle must have felt like…DAMN it’s HOT in here!), and then I start waving towels wildly at the windows to try to get the smoke out.

It’s one of those moments that if I were on reality TV, I think I would have made it on the Soup.  It was quite a sight, me fanning the smoke out of the windows, and not making much headway.  All while being DETERMINED to finish my cheesecake.

15 minutes later the cheesecake was ready to be removed from the oven.  I did so happily and let it cool according to the instructions.

The cheesecake was a bit lumpy, you could see pieces of cream cheese in it (THAT’S why you want room temp cream cheese…I get it now) but everyone loved it.  In fact they liked the Smoked Pumpkin Cheesecake more than the original.  However, I never want to make a cheesecake like that again…and I will remember a cookie sheet under my cheesecake pan from here on out.

So that’s my story…the tale of two cheesecakes.  I hope you enjoyed the story, and for the family, I am glad you enjoyed both cheesecakes 🙂

Here’s the recipe for all of you to enjoy.  I highly recommend the cream cheese to be room temperature, and don’t drink any wine while you do this…and don’t forget the cookie sheet…just in case.

Pumpkin Cheesecake – Adapted from Paula Deen’s Recipe

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted salted butter

Filling:

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature ** remember ROOM temperature not fridge temperature.
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For crust:

In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

For filling:

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

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