Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake

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Pumpkin Ginger CheesecakeWell, it seems appropriate to announce my new food blog the same week that we stuff ourselves full of cheer and gluttony.  One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving (besides the excuse to eat myself into a stupor) is the variety of food I get to eat all at once.  It’s like going to one of those enormous Vegas buffets without getting food poisoning.  I wish I could eat like that everyday.  People always ask me how to cook things.  They want to know what the best way to cook the turkey is or how I make the soup.  I could talk about the best Thanksgiving dishes but you can find that everywhere.  Seriously, you can’t open your email or turn on the TV right now without seeing something about how to Thanksgiving blah, blah, blah.  When people ask me “how to” I always say perfect your desserts.  It’s the last thing your guests eat so it better be the best thing you do because if dessert is awesome your guests walk away saying the meal was amazing (even if the turkey was dry or the mashed potatoes were lumpy).  But, if dessert is boring they won’t remember the succulent turkey you labored over all day or the perfectly crispy, bacon-y brussels sprouts.  So, when you ask me what is my favorite dessert to cook I always have an answer, or four or five…
I originally found this recipe for a Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake in Gourmet Magazine.  Yes, I miss it too.  I’m a firm believer that you should tackle a recipe with an open mind.  You might have to change things to make it just how you want it.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but you should always try because who cares if you screw it up.  You don’t have to tell anyone if it didn’t work, but you may have a funny story to take away.  Or you can always “remember” things differently, I learned that from my grandma Edith.  I also like mini anything.  2 bites can make a party a lot more fun and you can hold your drink (way more important) instead of a plate.  I like to make these in little mini muffin pans so they are cute little pies.

Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake
adapted from Gourmet
1 Gingersnap crust (see below)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
8 oz cream cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 T flour
1/4 t nutmeg
pinch salt
15 oz can pumpkin

Pulse the sugar and the ginger in a food processor. Add the cream cheese and pulse until smooth. Add eggs, milk flour, salt and nutmeg and process until just combined. Reserve about 1/2 cup of this mixture (I like to put it in a squeeze bottle when I make mini’s). Whisk the remaining mixture with the canned pumpkin and pour into crust. Pour the reserved mixture over the pumpkin filling in a zig zag pattern and then swirl with the back of a spoon or butter knife (if doing mini’s use a toothpick). No rules here just do what looks nice. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the pie is just set in the middle, about 45 minutes (12 minutes for mini’s). Let cool completely and chill 4 hours until the pie is firm. I’ll tell you a secret, if I’m in a hurry I put it in the freezer. I know, this might crack the pie in the center but, hey, I get to eat it faster. Serve with a whiskey whipped cream, hand whipped of course.

Gingersnap Crust
5 T melted butter plus extra for the pan
1 1/2 cups fine cookie crumbs (I like Nyakers Swedish Gingersnaps)
2 T sugar
pinch of salt

Butter the pie plate or mini muffin tins. Stir cookie crumbs and melted butter together with sugar and salt and press into pie plate or tin. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly brown. Let cool completely before using for Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake.