Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust, Salted Caramel Drizzle

For the Gingersnap Crust

1 C ground gingersnaps (about 2 C whole cookies)

1/3 C flour

¼ C unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

12oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

½ C light brown sugar

2 eggs

8oz. pumpkin purée

¼ C sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)

1 t ground ginger

1 t pumpkin pie spice (or substitute ¼ t EACH nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cinnamon)

1 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 8×8” baking pan with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse the gingersnaps until finely crushed. Add the flour, pulse again and then add the melted butter. Process until mixture resembles wet sand. Press gingersnap mixture evenly into the baking pan and set aside.

With a hand-held beater or with a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the softened cream cheese with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the pumpkin puree, sour cream, spices and vanilla. Beat again until everything is combined and smooth. Pour the mixture into prepared pan. Bake until set and golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Leave the cheesecake to begin to cool in the oven another 20 minutes with the door ajar, then remove and cool completely. Once cheesecake is at room temperature place in the fridge to set, several hours or overnight. (You can also freeze the cheesecake for up to one month.) Before serving, cut into squares and drizzle with Salted Caramel. Makes 16 squares.

Homemade Salted Caramel

Double the recipe so you’ll have extra on hand for ice cream! Caramel is made from so few ingredients that using high quality butter and cream will shine through.

½ C granulated sugar

3 T high quality unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ C heavy cream, room temperature

½ t sea salt

In a very clean heavy bottom saucepan, heat the sugar on medium low heat until completely melted, swirling the pan gently every 20 seconds or so. Watch the sugar carefully, as it will turn dark and caramelize quickly, but you don’t want it to burn. Once melted and nicely dark, remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the butter. The mixture will violently bubble – don’t worry, you’re doing it right. Continue whisking quickly until all the butter is absorbed. Next, pour in the heavy cream and whisk until combined, then add the salt. Allow the caramel to cool completely before using. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for one or two days, or in the refrigerator for up to one month. Microwave if necessary to make it pourable. Yield ¾ cup.


Triple Squash Soup

squash

 

The back story on this post, which pulls out a recipe from the archives (Danielle demoed this at Brookside and USBG this year ago) is that Adrienne discovered a (new) squash: Butterkin. Daughter Evangeline, coming in from Boston, wanted to try a pumpkin galette as a hardy vegetarian main course for our family gathering yesterday around Danielle’s table in her Washington DC home. The recipe (stay tuned) called for pumpkins but Evangeline wanted to make it with butternut. The shape wasn’t working however, so off we went to find small pumpkins that would work better. And there, in the hard-squash bins, was a Butterkin — butterkina cross between pumpkin and butternut! So lovely to look at — the skin the nut-color of butternut, the inside flesh like a persimmon — and the perfect size.

So how do we get to the soup? Well, there was quite a bit left over after the galette was executed.  But that wasn’t all. At the farmer’s market earlier in the week, Adrienne fell under the spell of some gorgeous striped squash, which she mistook for Delicata — the vendor concurred as to its pedigree, so her mistake was not entirely without reason. After battling mightily with the squash in an unsuccessful attempt to slice it, she realized the squash was actually an acorn, albeit pale gold with lovely multi-hued stripes, not unlike the skin of Delicata. Well, the two are not interchangeable, especially in the Sweet and Sour Delicata recipe Adrienne was making for the T’G table, so the hard-shelled acorn squash ended up in the crisper, along with the leftover Butterkin. Lo, we have the ingredients for Triple Squash Soup (counting Butterkin as two squashes in one).  This soup is a nice extension of the glories of the Thursday feast, but light enough to merit space on the Friday or Saturday table — or any time during the winter, for that matter.

1 (about 3 lbs.) small pie pumpkin
1 (about 1½ – 1¾ lbs.) acorn squash
1 (about 1½ – 2 lbs.) butternut squash
1 medium onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2½ teaspoon curry powder
¼ t cayenne
1 can lite coconut milk
4-6 cups vegetable broth
Salt to taste

Roast the squash: cut each squash in half, put face down on a cookie sheet, add about 1 cup of water to the pan. Roast in 375̊ oven for 40-50 minutes, until soft. Cool, remove seeds, scrape flesh from half of each squash into a bowl and set aside. You want to yield about 2½- 3 lbs. of flesh. (This step can be done up to three days in advance)

Make the soup: heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large stock pot, sauté the onions until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, cayenne and apple, stir well and let cook two or three minutes. Add the squash and broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Add coconut milk, honey and continue simmering for another 30-45 minutes, until all ingredients are very soft. Puree the soup, with a hand-help machine, a blender, or pureeing in batches with a food processor. Adjust taste for salt. Garnish with paprika.  Serves 6-8.



Pumpkin, Shiitake and Chestnut Soup

These are three ingredients that just seem to belong together, like the Three Little Pigs.  Each brings something deep and comforting and their flavors play off each other beautifully.  Add to that marsala and a touch of maple syrup and you have a great fall soup. We used a dry marsala, so the soup definitely benefitted from the maple syrup at the end.  If you use a sweet marsala, you may find you don’t need it at all.  If you don’t have marsala, try a medium-dry sherry instead.  You want something that has a nutmeg-y flavor. Read More