In Germany, we were fortunate to sample many, many rhubarb cakes (Rhabarberkuchen), most of them at the Kuchentheken, or Counters-with-Yummy-Cakes (my own translation), at Volksmarches we attended around the country. (Volksmarches are organized walks through woods, fields and towns in 5K, 10K and 20K loops for walkers, and 42K loops for bikers and marathoners. But I digress… ) At the Kuchentheken, you can get a generous slice of cake and strong cup of coffee for about 2 Euros — an incredible deal, and a welcome one after a long walk. At this time of year, when rhubarb is in high season, you can find at the Kuchentheken (and in the bakeries in town, to a lesser degree) an astounding varieties of homemade cakes, tortes and pies (but all called Kuchen) starring rhubarb. Of course, I tried any new variation we came across — there are rhubarb cakes with meringue toppings and ones with glazes, cakes with streusel and ones coated with nuts, cakes with custard filling and ones filled with sponge cake. German cakes, like many Japanese cakes, would be considered under-sweetened by American standards, but T and I prefer less-sweet sweets so these were perfect. Most of the rhubarb cake variations had no fruit other than rhubarb.
I learned to love the distinct flavor of naked rhubarb. I experimented with recipes for stews and even a savory bread pudding with rhubarb, but making a cake was never a priority because there were so many to try from all these accomplished home bakers during the season! But it’s been 4 years since we moved from Germany, and now that we’re again seeing lots of beautiful fresh rhubarb in the markets (something we didn’t see as much on Oahu), it’s reminded me that I can’t just look up the nearest Volksmarch to get my fix of homemade rhubarb cake/pie. I’ll finally have to make one myself.
Searching through dozens of recipes on German websites, I’ve narrowed it down to 4 recipes with different styles of “rhubarb cake” to try. This is the first because it was always my favorite — it has a yeasted “batter,” streusel topping, and naked fruit. In truth, it’s more bread than cake, but with a very airy and moist crumb reminiscent of Panettone, the Italian fruited bread-cake. Had a piece (okay, I had 2) after dinner last night, and there’s a slice with my name on it for my morning coffee today... mmmmmm....
RHABARBERKUCHEN MIT STREUSELN (Streusel Rhubarb Cake)
Adapted from DasKochRezept.de
For 6-8 servings
For the Dough:
4½ tsp. active dry yeast (or 35g fresh yeast)
(about 2 packets of dry yeast)
⅔ cup/ 160 ml lukewarm milk
5 cups/ 500g unbleached flour (used unbleached white whole wheat from King Arthur, which is why the bread is so dark)
6½ TBL/ 60g butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup/80g raw sugar (or ⅔ cup regular sugar)
⅓ cup/ 80ml milk
Grated peel from ½ lemon
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten together
1 tsp. sea salt
Dissolve yeast in warm milk with 1 TBL. of flour taken from the measured flour, and mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes to activate yeast.
Meanwhile, combine remaining flour, butter, sugar, milk, grated lemon peel, eggs, and salt. Once yeast is bubbling, add to dry ingredients with remaining milk and knead together to make a smooth dough. Cover and let rise until doubled — it took about an hour in my cool but humid kitchen. Meanwhile, prep the fruit and streusel.
For the Filling:
1lb./ 450g rhubarb
2 TBL. raw sugar
1 TBL. butter, cut into small dice
Wash, dry, and cut the rhubarb into 1” pieces. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle sugar over. Let rest until needed..
Preheat oven to 350F/ 180C.
Butter an 8” springform pan. Punch down the risen dough, and lay it out in the pan to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. (Confession: I could not locate my springform pan (although I know I’ve seen it since we moved in), so I used 2 non-traditional ceramic pans, one rectangular and one round. With exceedingly generous amounts of butter to coat the pans, the cake lifted out beautifully after cooling.)
For the Streusel:
½ cup/ 60g raw sugar (or ⅓ cup regular sugar)
¾ cup/ 75g unbleached flour
½ cup/ 40g old-fashioned oatmeal (this is my own addition, to add some crunch; the original recipe uses another ¼ cup flour instead)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 TBL/ 60g butter, melted
Combine all ingredients for Streusel, and mix well until large crumbs form.
Dot cake dough with diced butter, then put rhubarb and any accumulated juices in the bowl over the dough. Top with streusel and let rest for 10 minutes. Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 35 minutes. If streusel starts to brown too quickly, cover with foil.
Remove from oven and let cool. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. A nice dollop of sweetened creme fraiche or drained yogurt would compliment this nicely.
And now for your musical entertainment while you enjoy your rhubarb delicacy...
(Nope, this isn’t John Cleese. You can find that song here.)
They’re ready, at last. The lemons have transformed and are ready to play with. But how? We’ve seen them in a savory dish, Chicken with Preserved Lemons & Olives, but how do they fare in sweets?
I went on a search for a lemon almond polenta torta many years ago after reading about a production of the play, “Dinner with Friends,” in which this cake plays a starring role. The play (now also a movie) is about a food-writing couple, just returned from vacationing in Italy, who want to re-create some of the wonderful meals they enjoyed during their travels with their two closest friends, another couple. During the dessert course, trouble ensues. Anyway, the director in the review I was reading raves about the authentic lemon almond polenta cake he baked for his cast, but doesn’t actually offer a recipe, and so I searched.
I came across this dense Italian version in the Boston Globe, featured in a story that was actually about olive oil, and using olive oil in place of butter in baking sweets. It was a novel concept to me at the time, but one I’ve since adopted for much of our cake baking. But this was the recipe that started it all. It was intriguing in so many ways, it contained no flour, no butter, and used an entire lemon — pith, pulp and peel! The final result is bright, lemony, dense and decadent cake. The Globe article quotes American-born pastry chef, Faith Willinger saying, “People use olive oil because it is healthier [than the alternatives], and it lets the genuine flavors stand up for what they are. Butter coats the whole palate and makes everything sweeter. Olive oil complements, rather than hides, flavor." Chef Willinger has taught cooking classes and writes about food for over 25 years from her home base in Florence.
To celebrate the end of our five weeks of patience, it seemed appropriate to use these precious lemons for a cake. By the way, last week I found preserved lemons in a local supermarket: it was over $10 a bottle for 2 small lemons! It’s so easy to make at home, I hope more people try this themselves. (Learn how)
Since the lemons are preserved in salt, I simply elminated the salt in the original recipe. I also used some of the olive oil that was sealing the lemon brine to make up part of the olive oil used in the recipe (and topped off the lemon jar with additional oil), but that’s optional. I did use the almond extract this time, as I had done with the original raw lemon version, but I would not use it again if using preservd lemons. With the raw lemon, the extract blended well with the bright citrus in the lemon; but the preserved lemon gave the cake a rounder lemon flavor, still intense but without the acidity, and the extract is noticeably distinct and remains apart from the lemon. The biggest difference for me is this: I can enjoy the preserved lemon version with coffee, something I couldn’t do with the original. Again, it’s the acidity. I have to admit that I don’t like the combination of coffee and citrus — the citrus changes the taste of my lovely coffee (black, no sugar so other flavors really affect it). However, with the volatile oils softened after 5 weeks in brine, I can enjoy the lemon flavor in the cake and still savor my coffee. The two versions are different enough that I would consider serving them at different times, different occasions — the original for a Sunday brunch, served with iced or hot tea, and maybe a shot of Limoncello, or even a lemonade; the preserved version after dinner, with coffee and later a digestif.
That’s what food always comes back to, isn’t it — creating your best for family and friends. And with that thought, this cake goes with our love and prayers to Briana Brownlow at Figs with Bri, via Jugalbandi’s special CLICK event for June — a yellow culinary theme that doubles as a fundraiser to help Bri meet her costs for medical treatments. Normally Bri creates with and writes about organic foods on her site, but understandably is focusing her considerable energy on this second bout with breast cancer that has mestatasized into her lungs and lymph nodes. Jugalbandi’s bee and Jai have organized an account payable directly to Bri to allow her to explore medical options that her insurance company refuses to cover. They are asking for $25 donations from 500 people to help Bri cover these costs. If you would like to help, and to learn more about Bri’s fight, visit Jugalbandi or Figs with Bri.
Take care, dear Bri, and God Bless!
PRESERVED LEMON & ALMOND POLENTA TORTA
(adapted from the Boston Globe, Oct. 15, 2003)
4-6 pieces of preserved lemon, enough to equal one whole lemon
1/2 cup (85g) cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1-1/4 cups (250g) blanched almonds
1 + 1/4 (190g + 48g) cups raw sugar (coarse granulated or demerara)
1/2 cup (120ml) fruity olive oil (optional: use some from the top of the preserved lemons)
1/2 cup (120ml) evaporated milk
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish
Drained full-fat yogurt, for garnish
Pre-heat oven tp 350F/180C.
Oil a 9-inch round cake pan, line with wax or parchment paper cut to fit, and oil the paper.
In a bowl mix together the cornmeal and baking powder.
In a food processor, pulse the almonds with 1 cup of sugar to make a slightly coarse mixture.
Cut each preserved lemon piece in half, and remove any remaining seeds. Add to the ground almond mixture. Pulse again until the mixture forms a heavy puree. Taste for sweetness and add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, if necessary. Add the oil, milk, eggs, and (if using) almond extract. Process for 1 to 2 minutes or until just combined. Add the cornmeal mixture and pulse just briefly to combine.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until golden brown and slightly moist in the center.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Run a knife around the cake, invert it onto a cake plate, then invert back onto another plate so the baked side is on top. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve with drained yogurt and fresh fruit, if desired. The original is served with ricotta cream, see Boston Globe article for recipe.
For a lighter version of lemon almond polenta cake, see Nic’s beautiful creation at Cherrapeno.
Other recipes with preserved lemons: Chicken with Preserved Lemons & Olives, Fig-Stuffed Roast Lamb with Mushroom & Port Gravy, and Lamb Shanks with Preserved Lemons and Gremolata
We do love green tea. Hot or iced, in cakes, ice cream, custard, cookies — it’s all good. We drink almost all teas — green or black — without sugar; more by habit than for health. With sweets, though, we both agree that the best part of the earthy, herbaceous flavor of green tea is that hint of bitterness that comes through just before the sweet awakens the taste buds. Lovely.
With the advent of medical studies touting the anti-oxidant benefits of green tea, it’s been wonderful to see the spread of green tea consumption and green tea flavored goodies on menus and supermarket shelves. I see that a wave of Matcha Cookies hit the blogosphere last year and went right around the world! I first came across an entry for a green tea flavored cookie in Obachan’s Kitchen, one which she had made a few years earlier, but had noted that she was not satisfied with the recipe. I went back to the standard shortbread recipe we usually use (confession: I last made these in 2001) and decided to substitute part of the flour with ground green tea powder and see what happened. Besides, I got to use one of my favorite kitchen gadgets, too.
For this recipe I did not use matcha, I used ground green tea leaves. Matcha is a specific grade of green tea that has been ground to powder for use in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, and is prized for its astringent quality. I used home-grade green tea leaves and ground them at home in a ceramic grater. A local Japanese department store (Shirokiya) sells this grater for home tea brewing, especially for cold brewing. I received one as a present a couple of years ago, and I love it. It’s nice to be able to add green tea powder as a condiment and flavoring agent to many different foods, like these cookies. Otherwise, you can purchase “matcha powder for cooking” (which I suspect is the same grade of green tea we used here), and actual matcha in gourmet shops, tea shops and on-line.
In adapting our shortbread recipe, I heeded Obachan’s note that more than 2 teaspoons of matcha per 100g of flour would be too bitter, and so only used 2 teaspoons in this batch. The resulting shortbread had the wonderful color and pleasing flavor of green tea, but was a tad too sweet for my taste, even without the extra sugar topping. One of the reasons I make shortbread so rarely is that you really can’t cut down on the ratio of sugar to butter without sacrificing shortbread’s melt-in-your-mouth quality; whereas with other cookies, I often cut down the amount of sugar in the recipe by 1/4 to 1/3. I think most people would find the balance between green tea and sugar in the recipe below just right, especially if served with a pot of ocha (Japanese green tea). Since I’m using green tea powder instead of real matcha, next time I would risk replacing another teaspoon of flour with green tea. It’s not something I would advise other bakers to do unless they are looking for a bitter edge in their shortbread.
GREEN TEA SHORTBREAD
Makes about 24 cookies
**1/2 cup (or U.S. 1 stick) (110g) unsalted butter (no substitutes)
4-1/2 TBL. (55g) fine granulated sugar (aka caster, not powdered)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup (100g) all purpose flour
2 tsp. green tea powder
1/3 cup (55g) mochiko (glutinous rice four) or semolina
extra sugar for crunchy topping (optional)
**Update (01/06/09): With thanks to Nat for pointing out that the butter equivalencies originally were not correct -- the metric was correct, but the U.S. equivalent was off by half. My apologies to anyone who followed the U.S. measure and whose shortbread was too dry.
Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat together on low until the sugar is just incorporated (will still feel grainy).
Combine flour, green tea powder, salt and mochiko together. Add to butter mixture and stir well by hand to make a smooth paste, do not overwork the dough or your shortbread will come out like a brick.
Either roll into a log 1.5 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and chill (to make button cookies, as shown here); or flatten into a disc between two sheets of plastic wrap to a thickness of 1/2 inch and chill (to cut our shapes). Chill for 20 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 325F/170C.
To make buttons, slice log into 1/2-inch pieces.
Or use your favorite small cookie cutter to stamp out shapes. Gently re-roll, flatten and chill before stamping out more.
(Optional garnish) Place 2-3 TBL. of sugar on a small plate. Gently press one side of the cookie in sugar, and lay sugar side up on an ungreased baking sheet.
If cookies start to look shiny, place sheet in fridge for 5 minutes before baking. Bake in pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes. To check for doneness, look for opaqueness and a sandy quality in the cookies (see photo, right, for raw and cooked cookie comparison), and you will smell butter and green tea. They will still feel a little soft when hot, but will harden a bit on cooling. Do not over-bake or they will transform into miniature papaerweights. Because of the high ratio of sugar to butterfat, these cookies will keep their tender crumb.
Cool completely on wire rack. Store in air-tight container at room temperature for up to one week.
I'm the first to admit that I'm not a prolific baker. When I do bake, I have to be assured that most of my creation will end up in other hands, so it doesn't end up on my hips! Two pre-schoolers and their chocolate-loving mom brought out this recipe for chocolate cupcakes. Cocoa powder alone will not do, in my book — to deliver real chocolate flavor, there has to be melted chocolate. Only half the batter got the extra shot of dark chocolate chips, so the munchkins' parents had some control of how much caffeine they got after dinner!
This recipe produces a cake with a very tender crumb and a smooth, pleasing chocolate flavor that both kids and adults will enjoy.
(Makes 2 dozen cupcakes or 2 9-in. round layer cakes)
6oz (170g) dark chocolate, roughly chopped
3/4 cup (180ml) almond milk
3 TBL. plain full-fat yogurt
(or use 1 cup buttermilk instead of almond milk/yogurt mixture)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups (200g) all-purpose flour
3 TBL. cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups (290g) raw sugar (demerara)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (180g) chocolate chips, Ghirardelli's extra dark (optional)
Place chocolate in double boiler over simmering water for approximately 5–10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool 5–10 minutes.
Combine almond milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Stir well and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Set
In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat on medium speed until
fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add dry ingredients in three parts,
alternating with milk mixture. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are just
incorporated — do not over-beat. Scrape down the batter to ensure the
ingredients are well blended, and the batter smooth. If using chocolate chips, fold in
Fill the the pans about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in
the center comes out clean.
Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then on wire racks until completely cool.
For layer cakes, divide the batter between 2 9-in. round cake pans and bake 30–40 minutes.
5oz (140g) dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (115g) butter, softened
1-1/2 (195g)cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Melt chocolate over hot water; stir until smooth. Let cool 15 minutes. In large bowl, beat butter until light. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar, and beat until completely combined. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla; beat until smooth.
Pour into a piping bag and chill for 20 minutes. Pipe onto cupcakes just before serving.
First was a dried fruit and nutcake that just happened to also be vegan. I say it that way because there's a misconception that vegan desserts = "dry, crumbly and and uninteresting." I confess, I've thought that myself. But done right, and with recipes developed by people who love good food, vegan sweets are light, luscious and very ono. The vegan butterscotch quick bread by Hannah of Bittersweet that we made in October (see post) proved that point, and so did this brandy-soaked dried fruit and nut cake from bee and Jai at Jugalbandi. Their recipe provided enough batter for a gift cake (shown here, made with a Gugelhupf pan — smaller than a Bundt) and a 8x8 cake for us. Bee recommended soaking the dried fruits in rum for a month before baking!
We were invited to a wonderful Italian-American Christmas dinner with our friends Laurie and Brian and their family. Chef Brian prepared stromboli, veal parmesan, and spaghetti with meatballs, all from scratch — he was prepping into the wee hours of Christmas morning, bless him! I offered to make Tiramisu for dessert, in keeping with their Italian menu. Laurie is expecting their third child in February so the raw eggs in my usual recipe were out of the question. Instead, I tried a creme anglaise base so the eggs were cooked before adding the other custard ingredients, and proceeded as usual. I was impressed how close this came to the original, without the worry of having to use raw eggs! This may be my recipe of choice in future because it does eliminate the concern about the eggs. Don't be tempted to substitute cocoa powder for the grated chocolate in this recipe. Chalky powder (no matter which brand) can't compete with the creamy texture and taste grated dark chocolate lends this recipe. Tiramisu, custard-based recipe. Our thanks and love to Brian and Laurie for sharing their family celebration this year — Chef B, you're the best!
This was an alternative recipe for sweet spiced nuts (see post) that does not use egg whites. It's actually more like the candied walnuts (minus the sugar coating) we had with the spicy prawns at our favorite Chinese restaurant, and they are certainly tasty. But (you knew there was a "but" coming) they're cooked first in a sugar syrup, cooled in syrup overnight, dried another night, deep-fried, and coated in sugar. It's pretty time-consuming, and very laden with fat and sugar. With that word to the wise, here's the recipe for Crispy Sweet Walnuts.
For our second consecutive Christmas Eve we had Dungeness crab cioppino. Little piece of heaven. Until we moved to Hawaii 3 years ago, I had not had Dungeness in 10 years, and T had never tried it. Having grown up in Maine and around lobster boats as a teen, dear hubby was of the opinion that no crab was worth the effort of all the work it took to eat it. He had never tried Dungeness. Let's just say, in the immortal words of "The Borg": he was assimilated. This is the first time we've included fresh clams — their extra sweetness was a delight, but not necessary if they're not available where you are. Dungeness crab cioppino recipe.
It's a bit of a mess here in not-at-all-sunny Oahu today — power lines and trees are on the roads, roofs have blown away, schools are closed, buses aren't running, many homes are without power. All this the result of a freak windstorm in the early morning hours. The weather reporter said the UV (ultra-violet) Index for today was 1 (it's usually 10-12), so that tells you how dark and dreary it is today, and will continue to be until the weekend. I always think of our poor visitors, some who are here on a vacation of a lifetime, some to escape the dreary weather in their cold hometowns. How awful to have come so far and then be told by the civil defense authorities that people should stay indoors, seas are too rough for boat travel or swimming.
So here's a little aloha to all of our wind-swept visitors (and to everyone in a colder clime): a ray of island sunshine in a cup, the Pina Colada Trifle. A fresh pineapple and rum cake is enveloped by a creamy, gently sweet coconut pudding. Easy to make, easy to serve. What could be better during this busy season? (The cake improves with one day's wait, so bake it early if time permits.)
PINA COLADA TRIFLE
Part I: Pineapple Rum Cake
12 TBL. (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups (250g) brown sugar
6 egg yolks
3 cups (270g) sifted cake flour
1 TBL. + 1 tsp. (20 grams) baking powder
3/4 tsp. (5g) salt
½ cup (112 ml) dark rum
½ cup (112ml) milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups (360g) chopped fresh pineapple
Preheat oven to 350F (177C). Butter and flour 2 9-inch x 1-1/2 inch (23 x 3.75 cm) cake pans, or 1 13x9-inch pan. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder.
Combine rum, vanilla and milk.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar on high until sugar dissolves and mixture is light. On medium speed, add egg yolks, one at a time, ensuring each yolk is incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down bowl. Add dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with rum mix, and ending with dry. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated, then increase mixer speed to medium and beat for about 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl. Add pineapple and fold in.
Pour batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or when the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center. Cool in pan on wire rack.
Part II: Haupia (Coconut Pudding)
(This recipe produces a looser pudding than haupia served by itself. If you want to make Haupia squares, increase cornstarch to 4 TBL.)
1-½ cup (350ml) coconut milk (12 oz. can)
1 ½ cup (350ml) water
3-4 TBL. sugar
3 TBL. cornstarch
Combine water, sugar, and cornstarch and cook over low heat until just below simmering. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves. Slowly add coconut milk, stirring constantly. Keep stirring, shifting directions, and stirring across the center so the mixture is in constant motion and doesn’t burn. After 10 to 15 minutes the color will change from chalky opaque to shiny bright white, and the mixture will thicken. Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature.
To Assemble: Cut cooled cake into 1 in. (2.5cm) cubes. Place in individual wine glasses. Pour slightly cooled haupia over cake. When pudding has completely cooled, cover and chill until serving time. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh grated coconut.
Well, I did know Thanksgiving was this month, anyway, and coaxed our friend, Brandon, to share his recipe for the fabulous dessert he brought to our Thanksgiving table last year. The photo is actually of his cake before it was set upon after dinner. I'm not a huge dessert eater, and while I like cheesecake, they are generally very dense and I find it hard to eat more than a few nibbles. Not so with this cake. It is light and creamy, and the flavors are nuanced and layered: the pecans in the crust meet the candied pecan topping, the gingersnap crust echos the ginger and spices of the filling, the crunchy crumb crust and candied pecans sandwich the meltingly rich middle. Even after a full Thanksgiving meal, this cheesecake was a welcome touch of sweetness with our post-prandial coffee and digestifs.
Brandon will be literally a world away this Thanksgiving, probably working, but definitely missed in Hawaii. (And, yes, ladies, he not only bakes, he's single too!) Stay safe, Brandon, and Mahalo for letting me share this recipe.
BRANDON'S PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE WITH CANDIED PECANS
1-1/2 cups/135g gingersnap cookies (about 25 cookies), or Lebkuchen
1/3 /40g cup pecan halves
1/4 cup/50g light brown sugar
4 TBL/58g unsalted butter, melted
Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.
In a food processor or blender, combine the gingersnaps and pecans, and blend to a fine crumb. Add sugar and butter, and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Transfer to prepared pan. Pat the mixture into the bottom and evenly all the way up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until firm.
3/4 cup/150g light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
(in the alternative, you can substitute 1-3/4 tsp "pumpkin pie spice" for all these separate spices, the ratio will still be about the same)
1lb/454g cream cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 cup/180g pumpkin puree
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cloves. Using a large bowl and an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the brown sugar mixture, beating until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree, beating until smooth. Pour into chilled crust and smooth top.
Bake until set or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
1 cup pecan halves
2 TBL. unsalted butter
2 TBL. granulated sugar
Set aside 10 pecan halves and coarsely chop the rest. In a small pan set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add all the nuts, sprinkle with sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and the nuts are toasted and coated. Transfer the mixture to a plate and cool completely, then store in an airtight container.
Just before serving, slice the cake into 10-12 slices, then scatter the candied nuts over the cheesecake, and arrange the halves evenly around the perimeter. Serve with creme fraiche or lightly sweetened chantilly cream (perhaps laced with bourbon to bring out the pecan flavors).
We've entered this post in the Festive Food Fair event hosted by the lovely Anna at Morsels & Musings. This event highlights celebration foods from all traditions, East and West, and around the world. Look for the round-up starting the week of December 10-14th. I can't wait to see what wonderful stories and recipes are shared!
UPDATE: The Festive Food Fair Round-up has been posted — check it out HERE!