The weather is getting colder and colder in Perth which means it’s time to do the changeover of ingredients in the pantry as well as clothes in the wardrobe. Fortunately things don’t get obscenely cold in Perth but I’m feeling less inclined towards zesty, fruity desserts and more towards comforting rich dishes. As such, a light-bulb in the form of a baked cheesecake flavoured with pumpkin and caramel came to mind.
I had enjoyed something similar in Sydney earlier in the year courtesy of Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie. I don’t remember the exact details of the dessert (those who know Zumbo’d work will understand my failure to remember) but it was essentially a pumpkin cheesecake sitting on a crunchy caramel sable. It was delectable.
However, I was hoping to achieve something a more obvious and full-bodied pumpkin flavour so I hacked up a nice Japanese pumpkin and gave it a nice slow roast in the oven. In the meantime, I made up a quick batch of burnt caramel syrup. I love that slightly bitter flavour of burnt sugar and thought it might sit well with the roasted pumpkin.
I did up a simple base of crushed biscuits (in desperation I used a generic oatmeal, digestive -style biscuit but McVities would have been nice…) which I produced by throwing 150g of biscuits into the Thermomix and processing on speed 6 for a few seconds. It’s up to you how fine you want your crumbs but I think it’s best to not over process so please keep an eye on it. You can then just throw in 60g of melted butter into the mix but alternatively you can put some room temperature butter into the TMX bowl and stir on speed 1 at 80C for a few minutes to combine the crumbs gradually with the butter. Once combined, pour mix into a pie base (or round cake tin in my case) and press down firmly. Bake in oven for 10 minutes on 170C.
As the base bakes, puree up about a cupful of roasted pumpkin (once cooled) until nice and smooth (speed 5 for a few seconds – no fibrey bits should be seen). The add about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 60g of caster sugar and a 250g block of light Philadelphia cream cheese (you can use the fully loaded version too of course) and give the mix a stir on speed 4 for a few seconds until well combined. Add one egg into the mix and whiz the TMX again on speed 4 for a few seconds more.The mix should be liquid enough to jiggle around in the bowl if shaken.
Finally, pour about 1/3 cup of burnt caramel sauce into the bowl and swirled it through. In hindsight I would have poured the cheesecake mix into the cake tin first and swirled the caramel through but given the vivid yellow colour of the mix, I doubt the swirls would be noticeable in the end. Either way, get the mix into the tin and bake the cheesecake in a lower oven (140c) for about 25 – 30 minutes. Once the outer edges takes on some colour, it’s ready. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door open for a while to prevent cracks appearing. Once it’s cooled down, take it out and let cool some more. Transfer to fridge and enjoy once cold.
I served a slice up with some King Island double cream with crushed hazelnut pralines sprinkled on top.