Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Pumpkin Cheesecake, Maltese Style

October 21 was ‘Pumpkin Cheesecake Day’.
Hope you had one to celebrate the day.
Pumpkin seems to be everywhere now.

Pumpkin is a popular ingredient in Maltese cooking, especially in vegetable soups.
In coffee drinks, not so much.


According to an early American legend, leaving a half pumpkin open or exposed in any room, but especially the kitchen, attracts negative energies into your home. 
Right… tell that to the gang carving up the family jack-o’-lantern.
Just don’t say anything while they’re holding knives.


Pumpkins are symbols of the fruitfulness of the earth in Autumn time.
Something about their round orange bodies representing the abundance of the Mother Goddess or Mother Earth. 
And those pumpkin seeds…
Pumpkin seeds, when roasted, are a great low calorie snack.
Pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie are said to bring money and luck your way as well.
Low calorie they’re not. 

About that Pumpkin Cheesecake tradition…
The pumpkin will be cluttering up your kitchen after October 31.
You don’t want bad feng shui.
Follow my Ma’s example and make a Pumpkin Cheesecake.


Hint:

Check cheesecake doneness by gently shaking the pan. 
If the cheesecake is done, it will be set except in the centre that will be soft. 
Do not insert a knife into the centre.  
This may make the cheesecake crack during cooling. 

Want to make the cheesecake in a 9x13-inch pan to serve as small dainties?
No problem.
Line the pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. 
Prepare the cheesecake batters, then spoon into the prepared pan and swirl. 
Bake in a 350°F oven 45 minutes or until centre is almost set. 
Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours. 
Use foil handles to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.


                        Pumpkin Cheesecake 


Serves 16

Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Butter the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
Preheat the oven to 350º F

The Crust

Combine in a small bowl
1 1/4 Cups graham wafer crumbs
1/4 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup margarine, melted 
Press the mixture over the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake 8 minutes.
Place on a rack to cool.
Leave the oven on.


The Filling

Combine in a large mixer bowl
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat at medium speed until smooth.
Add, one at a time
3 large eggs  
Mix well after each egg is added.
Remove 1 cup of the plain cheesecake filling and set aside.

Add to the filling in the large mixer bowl
1/4 cup sugar
1 Cup pumpkin (canned or cooked and pureed)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Beat at low speed until smooth.  Do not over beat.

Spoon half of the pumpkin cheesecake filling into the prepared pan.
Top with spoonfuls of half the plain cheesecake filling.
Repeat the layers, then swirl gently with a knife. 
Bake for 45 minutes.
The pie should be set around the edges, with a slightly soft centre.
Cool on a wire rack 1 hour.
Keep the cake in the pan, wrap it in foil, and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

About an hour before serving remove the cake from the refrigerator.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the sides of the pan.
Serve with 
whipped cream
Sprinkle with nutmeg (optional)

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