When a Cheesecake looks
like the San Andreas Fault

It may not have looked pretty enough to serve.. but it was a taste masterpiece!

I had ingredients left over from my Pumpkin Marsala Spice Cake with a Cheesecake Surprise, so my intention was to reverse the dessert and make a simple cheesecake with a pumpkin swirl. It was in fact a good idea, I have made this type of cheesecake before and it has turned out wonderfully. But this time I wanted the pumpkin flavor to just be an accent, infusing the cake with just a slight taste of pumpkin.

I piped the cheese filling 1/4 of the way up the pan, then I dolloped a few teaspoons of pumpkin filling in the cheese and swirled it around, then adding more cheese filling to 3/4 of the way up the pan. I then dotted the pumpkin filling on top of the cheese filling so that I could run a toothpick through the dots creating a pretty design on the top of the cheesecake, as you see above.

It created San Andreas like faults in all the dotted places on my cake. Not so pretty.. but the slight infusion of pumpkin was the success I was hoping for.

Now let me tell you about the crust.. this was where most of the flavor punch came from. With an ingredient list of graham cracker crumbs, ginger snap cookie crumbs, ground cinnamon pecans, brown sugar, butter and a drizzle of marsala wine.. we were all in heaven. The combination of flavors were (and are) a perfect melding of holiday aromatics.

So while I may make a few adjustments for future swirly's that decorate the top of my cake, I won't change this crust!

An addition to our cheesecakes that my mom had taught us when we were young in the kitchen, was to take the cake out five minutes before it was done and add a sour cream topping, put it back in the oven and bake for an additional five minutes. For the sour cream topping we just mixed together sour cream, a couple of tablespoons of sugar, vanilla and a splash of lemon (if a lemon based cheesecake). This topping would for sure hide any of the cracks on the cake.. and it tastes so good!

While I don't have an exact recipe for the pumpkin filling, I added around;

Pumpkin Filling
15 oz. pureed pumpkin, 1 egg, 1/2 cup half and half, sugar, bourbon vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves to taste.

The rest of the recipe is as follows;

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup ground ginger snap cookies
1/4 cup finely chopped cinnamon or candied pecans
1/2 stick melted butter (more if needed)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. Marsala

3 sticks of 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs. Flour
2 tbsp. Bourbon vanilla extract
1 tbsp Marsala wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees°.
In a food processor grind ginger snap cookies and pecans. Mix together with graham cracker crumbs and the remainder of crust ingredients. Lightly press into a spring-form pan going up an inch or so on the sides. Set crust aside.

Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla and Marsala, blend until smooth and creamy.

Pour 1/4 of the batter into prepared crust. Dollop some of the pumpkin and swirl around with a knife. Avoid cutting into the crust. Add the remainder of cheese filling and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Dot the cake all the way around.. in columns, with the pumpkin filling. With a toothpick, move slowly around the circle through the middle of the dots. Cover bottom securely with foil. I do this so butter from the crust does not drip in my oven. I almost think this also prevents the bottom from cooking to quickly while the thick middle is cooking.

* If you want to avoid the San Andreas Fault look.. you can limit your pumpkin filling to the middle section of your cake only. :)

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is a little jiggly in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Turn the heat off and open the door of the oven so it is ajar. Let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. At least 12 hours. I like to make my cheesecakes a whole day in advance to serving.

Buon Appetito!


Proud Italian Cook said...

I don't care if it sunk like the San Andreas fault like you say, I would be all over this cake! Wow that crust sounds amazing. I've noticed throughout the years Laurie that marsala wine is a favorite ingredient of yours, I gotta break out my bottle more often!!

Joanne said...

The thing I've learned about pumpkin-y desserts is that while they may not LOOK good, they always taste good. And that's what really counts, right?

Denise Michaels - Adventurous Foodie said...

Hi Laurie: I make a couple really amazing cheesecake recipes and I've discovered a secret to making sure cheesecakes don't crater on you.

It's all about the cool down. Don't take it out of the oven. Just turn the oven off. About ten minutes later prop open the oven door a little bit. Let it sit there for an hour. Then finally take it out of the oven to room temp. Letting the cheesecake cool down much more slowly has solved my problems with splitting cheesecakes.

Lynn Richards said...

Mmmmmmm! Who cares what it looks like if it's pumpkin!!!!

Claudia said...

Oh do I ever want that. And I think it looks pretty good (shows you what my cheesecakes look like). My mother kept hers in the oven for 30 minutes (unheated, door ajar). Cheesecakes and pumpkin cakes are famous for cracks. I am at an age where cracks are character. And taste. And I'd take this. And I love your blog!

Laurie said...

Thank you for the comments!
A few of you commented that you leave the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes to an hour with the door ajar. I too use this technique.. and it works!

But this time, the cracks happened early on in the baking process. There was no redeeming this cake with the "cool down" technique.

The cheesecake pulled away from the pumpkin swirls, you can kind of see this in the pictures. :)

The Food Hunter said...

It looks pretty darn good to me!

Donna-FFW said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you.

faithnettles said...

That looks delicious! Fault lines or not - like others have stated its all about the taste :) Definitely saving this recipe and will try it myself soon.

Danielle said...

that crust sounds amazing!! I usually put a separate pan in the oven with a cup or so of water to create some steam which seems to help. I bet a sour cream topping applied towards the end with the pumpkin swirl on that would be really pretty!

savoringeverybite said...

Your cheesecake is beautiful as it was made with love! The ingredients sound so good, a perfect holiday dessert!

Beth said...

That looks great! Fault lines (and other mishaps) can always be hidden, as long as the result is tasty!

Katerina said...

Sometimes a sweet may not look as elegant but it may be a revelation tastewise. I think this sweet falls into this category.

Laurie said...

Thank you Katerina! :)

Lori Lynn said...

Seriously, I think it is fault-less. That is one awesome sounding cake.
Dear Laurie - wishing you and your family a wonderful new year.

Val said...

Nice! Happy new year to all, and fingers crossed for a great 2011!

Viviane Bauquet Farre - Food and Style said...

Looks absolutely delicious to me, "San Andreas Fault" and all!

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