Pumpkin Almond Cheesecake

Oct 15th

In level-two cooking we did a cake unit (yes, a cake unit in a high school class – high school kids have it good). They always wanted to do a cheesecake, because, well, cheesecake is the bomb. I’d explain that it wouldn’t work in the time period – you can’t eat a cheesecake until it’s been chilled at least 8 hours. While this was frustrating for a high school cooking class, it’s AWESOME for a home cook. Make ahead desserts are what it’s all about. This cake, friends, is not to be missed.

Sometimes when the Kardashian show is on TV, I watch it. It’s ridiculous. And entertaining. The other day Kim took a bite of something and said, “not worth it”. It was a cookie or something, and what she was saying was that it wasn’t splurge-worthy. I get this; I subconsciously do this all the time. When I make homemade pizza, I eat until I am uncomfortably full – to me it’s worth every bite. After Saturday night’s homemade pizza, we enjoyed this cheesecake. I had pulled the recipe from Cooking light and de-fancied it. Who has time to go to the specialty store for the vanilla bean? I was worried that by removing the fancy, it wouldn’t be as good. I was so, so wrong. After the 5 slices of pizza (yes, that’s right), I DEVOURED my piece of cake.

The almond cake layer on the bottom is dense, sweet, chewy deliciousness (almond paste can easily be found in the baking aisle of any grocery store). The pumpkin part looks like pumpkin pie, but then you realize it’s cool creamy cheesecake and you die. On Sunday night I said to my husband, “you need to eat these last slices with me – you cannot go to work tomorrow and leave me with the leftovers”. It’s dangerously addicting. This came together quickly and could be made two days before it’s needed. PERFECT for Thanksgiving. A tweaked version of the classics you usually enjoy. It’s on my list for this year – can’t wait!

Pumpkin Almond Cheesecake

Serves 10

Adapted from Cooking Light

Almond Cake

6 tbsp. sugar

1/4 c. butter, softened

1/8 tsp. salt

4 oz. almond paste (half of an 8 oz. can)

2 eggs

1/4 c. all purpose flour

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cheesecake Layer

11 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese (1 brick and 3 oz. from another brick), softened

1/2 c. sugar

pinch salt

3 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 c. unsweetened pumpkin

1/3 plain 2% Greek yogurt

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Topping

1/3 c. sliced almonds

1/4 c. maple syrup

pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 in. springform pan with nonstick spray.

2. Almond cake: combine sugar, butter, salt, and almond paste in a large bowl. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).

3. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Add flour and vanilla, beating on low until JUST combined.

5. Spread batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.

6. Reduce oven temp to 300 degrees. Meanwhile, prepare cheesecake. Combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and salt with electric mixer on medium speed.

7. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low until just mixed. MAKE SURE EGGS ARE AT ROOM TEMP. If you didn’t remember to put them out about 30 minutes ahead of time, place eggs in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes. If eggs are cold they will make your cream cheese seize up at get a bit lumpy.

8. Add yogurt, vanilla, pumpkin and ginger and beat at low speed until just blended.

9. Pour mixture onto cooled almond cake and bake for 1 hour and ten minutes or until cheesecake center barely jiggles when pan is moved.

10. Let cool completely and then cover with plastic and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

11. Once chilled, remove cake carefully from springform pan.

12. Before serving (or hours ahead, doesn’t really matter), toast sliced almonds in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Add maple syrup and stir, cooking for about 1 minute. Spread mixture gently over surface of cheesecake.

13. Slice and serve, topped with whipped cream.

Yay for fall!

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