Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake

November 30, 2011
 Cinnamon-laced creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake ... it may just be the creamiest, tastiest cheesecake around.  A big slice of its creamy deliciousness will help take the edge off the holiday preparation stress!

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake ~ a fabulously creamy & delicious fall #dessert. Perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas, too! #pumpkindesserts  #pumpkinspice #cheesecake #Thanksgiving

Wow!  Do I ever feel behind this Christmas season, or what?  Let's see ... my tree is half-lit.  I experienced the age-old problem of burned out light strands while attempting to get the tree decorated this past weekend.  After stops at two stores earlier this week, I still had no lights ... they were sold out of white lights.  Really?  Sold out??  Two stores???

So the next day, I stopped at the drug store close to my house and picked up a few sets of lights.  Got them home and started to put them on the tree ... and can you guess? ... Yep, I had bought the wrong kind!  So, today I finally have come home with new lights.  Haven't put them on the tree yet, but I'm at least moving in the right direction.

Christmas shopping ... until today I hadn't completed one person yet.  Nope - not a one.  I used to be the "have-my-Christmas-shopping-done-by-July" type.  Not quite sure what's happened to me, but that has certainly changed.  I'm happy to report, though, after a whirl-wind afternoon of shopping, I'm able to check off five (and a 1/2) people on my list.  Progress!

Christmas cards ... haven't even thought about them.  Well, until right now to type this.

Baking? ... behind on that, too.

Oh well.  I will get all my Christmas preparation done.  I always do.  And to quote a friend, "I'm too blessed to stress!"  That's right! ... Life is good.  I am super blessed with great things in life.  Too blessed to stress.  Love that saying.

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake image

So what does all this have to do with dreamy, creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake?  Absolutely nothing.

Well, other than the fact that I am blessed to have been given this fabulous recipe by a friend of mine at my bridal shower seven years ago.  Each guest at the shower brought a favorite recipe to give to me, which the shower hostesses then slyly collected and placed in a monogrammed recipe box.  So sweet.  I think that is one of the most wonderful, touching, and cherished gifts I've ever received.

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake photo

Now when it comes to this pumpkin cheesecake deliciousness, two layers sit atop a cinnamon-laced graham cracker crust.  The pumpkin layer is ultra-creamy and spiced just right with cinnamon and nutmeg.  

The secret to achieving this ultra-creamy cheesecake texture?  Making sure your cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature before mixing the cheesecake batter.  We're not just talking setting them out for about 10 minutes before getting started to just take the chill off them ... that won't give you a super creamy pumpkin cheesecake.  To get truly creamy texture, set the cream cheese and eggs out at least a couple of hours  before you plan to begin making the cheesecake.

Once almost fully baked, the creamy pumpkin cheesecake layer is then topped with a sweetened sour cream layer and baked for just a few minutes more.  The sour cream layer gives a nice flavor balance and a beautiful finish to the top of the cheesecake.

This truly may just be the creamiest, tastiest cheesecake around.

So no matter how crazy holiday preparation gets, remember ...  "Too blessed to stress!"  And if you do get stressed, you can always eat pumpkin cheesecake.  It helps. 

Creamy and delicious pumpkin cheesecake ... it may just be the creamiest, tastiest cheesecake ever.
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Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake
Source:  A friend
(Printable recipe)
  • 1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. butter, melted
  • 3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15 oz.) can 100% pure pumpkin
  • 2/3 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 (16 oz.) container sour cream
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Prepare the Crust: Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan lined with parchment paper.
  2. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Do not let it brown.
  3. Prepare the Cheesecake: Make sure your cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature (this is important!). Beat cream cheese, 1 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar together until fluffy. Beat in eggs, pumpkin, and evaporated milk. Add cornstarch, 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat well.
  4. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. The edge should be set and the middle still moves slightly.
  5. Prepare the Topping: Combine sour cream, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and vanilla. Spread over cheesecake. Bake for 5 minutes more. Refrigerate cheesecake over night.


Please enjoy these other sweet treats from The Kitchen is My Playground ...

Caramel Pumpkin Snack Cake

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake pin image

This post is linked with Weekend Potluck.

Chai-Spiced Mixed Nuts

November 26, 2011

I'm back from a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with my family!  I ate way too much food, relaxed watching movies with my Dad, shopped and shared wine with my Mom, watched a "Chopped" marathon on the Food Network (I love that show!), and just generally had a low-key and relaxing weekend.  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too!

And now it's time to turn an eye toward Christmas.

About two weeks ago I started planning out Christmastime lessons for my classroom.  I can't believe Christmas is almost here already.  And I absolutely could not believe I had my 'December' folder out at school.  Truly, where is time going?  (As my hubby likes to say, "Life is like a roll of toilet paper ... the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes."  Nice, huh?)  Well, Christmas is almost here.  I've got my tree up ... it's not decorated yet, but the tree itself is up.  That's a start.  Hopefully, hubby will help me get the lights on it tomorrow.  And  I've started my holiday baking ... yay!  That's one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season.

So, in honor of the start of the Christmas season, I decided to share this recipe for Chai-Spiced Mixed Nuts.  These are delicious.  And would be perfect as little gifts or as nibbles at a holiday party.  And you know what else?  They're easy!!  Oh, how I love a recipe that's both delicious and easy! 

You start by simply tossing a combination of nuts with vanilla-laced egg white ... I used a mix of whole almonds, walnuts, and pecans.  Then sprinkle on a sugar-and-spice mixture, get everything good and coated, ...
Sugar-and-spice goodness

... and spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.

"Is it time for the sauna??"

Bake 'em up, and they'll develop a fabulously tasty sugar-and-spice flaky coating.  Soooooo good.

See the flaky sugar-and-spice coating?

Serve up a bowl and enjoy!  I've made two batches already, and shared with friends.  I am a huge chai fan ... so I think I see a few more batches in my near future.  Yum!

A bowl of yummy nibbles

Chai-Spiced Mixed Nuts
Source:  Adapted from Cooking Light magazine
(Printable recipe)
1 T. vanilla extract
1 egg white
3 c. nuts (I used 1 c. each whole almonds, pecan halves, & walnut halves)
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

1.  Combine vanilla extract and egg white in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy.  Stir in nuts.

2.  Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cardamom in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over nuts, tossing to coat.

3.  Place nut mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.  Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove pan from oven.  Turn off oven.

4.  Toss nuts, breaking pieces apart.  Return pan to oven, and leave pan in oven for an additional 10 minutes (with the oven still turned off).

5.  Cool to room temperature.  Store nuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.



Cranberries & Brie on Lemon Thins ~ a great leftovers idea

November 21, 2011
The sweet lemony flavor of Lemon Cookie Thins with tart cranberry and creamy brie are an amazingly wonderful combination for a very simple-to-pull-together appetizer.  You'll be amazed at the deliciousness of Cranberries & Brie on Lemon Thins.
Cranberries and Brie on Lemon Thins

One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is the leftovers.  I know ... many people loathe leftovers.  Not me.  I love them! 

For days after Thanksgiving day, my Mom, Dad, and I eat solely on leftovers.  (Hey, the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving feast did last for three days, ya know!)  For each meal, Mom and I take all the leftovers out of the refrigerator, sprawl them across the counter, and each of us serves up whatever we're in the mood for.  I don't know why, but I just think these kind of meals are fun.  Sometimes we serve ourselves the leftovers 'straight up' ... and sometimes we get creative, seeing what new combinations and concoctions we can come up with.

Like Cranberries & Brie on Lemon Thins.  This is a great idea for leftover cranberry sauce.  Just spoon some of your leftover cranberries over a chunk of brie (this particular photo has my Cabernet Cranberry Sauce) and serve it with Lemon Cookie Thins.

My Lemon Cookie Thins happen to be Mrs. Hanes' Hand-Made Moravian Cookies ...

Mrs. Hanes Lemon Cookies

I've also found lemon cookie thins at Trader Joe's, but you can find other brands at the 'regular' grocery store.

Tader Joes Meyer Lemon Thins

While any cracker would work for simple appetizer, the sweet lemony flavor of the Lemon Cookie Thins with the tart cranberry and creamy brie are an amazingly wonderful combination.  These cookie thins also come in a gingerbread flavor, which I'd like to try with the cranberries, too.  Wonder if it would be as good?  I'll have to find out!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I wish you a very blessed and fabulous day with your families.  Oh, and remember to wear stretchy pants!

Cranberries and Brie on Lemon Thins


Cabernet Cranberry Sauce

November 18, 2011

Don't think you like cranberry sauce?  Give this Cabernet Cranberry Sauce a try!  With cranberries simmered in Cabernet Sauvignon, and accented with cinnamon and tangerine zest, it may just change your mind.

Cranberry sauce.  To me, it always seemed like one of those things that was on the Thanksgiving table just because it's supposed to be there.  I'd take a tiny dollop ... pretty much because I thought I had to.  Then I found this recipe for cabernet cranberry sauce.  And that's when my entire view of this cranberry stand-by changed.

This cranberry sauce, I could gobble up by the spoonful (no pun intended!).  There's something about the combination of bold, rich Cabernet with tart cranberry and cinnamon that ... well ... just works.  Now, admittedly, I am a wine lover.  So that could have something to do with why I love this cabernet cranberry sauce so much.  How could a wine lover go wrong with a wine-based sauce?  But that aside, even if you're not a wine lover, I think you'd find this cabernet cranberry sauce to be a cut above the 'standard' fare.

Okay, so where's my spoon??  I need to dig in!  I sure hope I don't eat it all before Thursday.

Cabernet Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 (12 oz.) package fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. Cabernet Sauvignon*
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 to 2 tsp. tangerine zest
  1. Bring sugar and wine to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 10-15 minutes, or until cranberry skins have popped.
  3. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Cool slightly. Serve warm or chill at least 2 hours. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Sauce may be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

*Note - Use good quality wine.  It makes a difference in this recipe!  Also, I've tried making this with Merlot instead of Cabernet Sauvignon, and didn't like it nearly as well.  If you are a cinnamon lover, consider adding an extra cinnamon stick or a dash of ground cinnamon to the pot when adding the other ingredients.  Personally, I love the cinnamon flavor in this sauce.  I've also been known to add two or three whole cloves, as well.


Please enjoy these other tasty cranberry dishes from The Kitchen is My Playground ...


Apple Currant Bread

November 14, 2011

Oh, fond memories of childhood.  That's what this fabulous fall bread brings back to me.  My Mom used to bake all the time when I was growing up. (Hmmmm ... were you wondering where I got it from??  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, right?)  And this apple currant bread was one of my absolute favorites in her line-up.

Fresh apple.  Sweet currants.  Just a hint of cinnamon.  The crunch of chopped pecans.  Isn't that the perfect blend of fall flavors?  If it's not, well then it's pretty close! 

I hadn't had this bread in years.  And had truly forgotten how much I like it.  Then, while leafing through my family's cookbook, it struck me - "Hey!  I need to make apple currant bread!"  So I did. 

Bake yourself up a loaf of this beautiful bread, slice off a big hunk, and dig in.  You'll be glad you did.

Apple Currant Bread
Source:  My Mom
(Printable recipe)
1/3 c. butter
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
2 T. milk
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. peeled shredded apple (about 2 medium or 1 very large apple)
1 c. dried currants
1/2 c. chopped nuts (I use pecans)

1.  Cream together butter, sugar, and cinnamon.  Beat in eggs until light and fluffy.  Beat in milk and lemon juice.

2.  Stir together dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture, stirring just until moistened.  Fold in shredded apple, currants, and nuts.

3.  Spoon into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (I let mine go for the full hour and I think I slightly over-cooked it.  I suggest starting to check a bit before an hour is up.)



Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling {Step-by-Step}

November 8, 2011
Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling is classic for a reason ~ and one bite is all you need to remember why it's so loved.

Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

If you are a frequent reader of The Kitchen is My Playground, you know I'm cooking my way through my family's cookbook ~ slowly, but surely.  This week I tackled a recipe that scared me ~ the classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling my Mom used to make when I was growing up.

I'm so happy to say that I can report success with this one!

Because ... truly ... I had concerns.

Alas, I am scared no more.  While this creation is a bit nerve-wracking the first time through, the beautiful and absolutely scrumptious result is worth the tiny bit of wear-and-tear on the nerves.

After my afternoon adventure with this cake, which included three in-process phone calls to my Mom, I can now walk you through its creation step-by-step.  Complete with tips from Mom, of course.  Follow Mom's advice, and you'll be cranking out a gorgeous Pumpkin Cake Roll, too!

Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

Start by lining a jelly roll pan with waxed paper.  To ensure the baked cake slides out of the pan intact, spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray, add the waxed paper, and then spray with non-stick cooking spray again.  MOM TIP #1:  Mom says this is very important.  Do not skip this step.  

Or you'll be sad later.

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Next whip up the cake batter, being sure to beat the eggs for the full 5 minutes called for in the recipe.  This incorporates air into the batter and creates a light, springy cake.  You'll like it this way, I promise.

Spread the batter into your prepared jelly roll pan, like so ...

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

... and sprinkle evenly with the finely chopped walnuts.

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Bake up the cake.

And now comes nerve-wracking part #1 ... turning the cake out of the pan.  This part made me sooooooo nervous.  To get ready for this nail-biter step, spread a towel out on your counter and sprinkle it generously with powdered sugar.  Okay, now take about three deep breaths.

Take your cake out of the oven ... take a few more deep breaths ... and immediately flip your pan over onto your powder-sugared towel.  Say a little prayer that when you lift up the pan, you'll have a cake sitting there neatly separated from the pan.

Now, go ahead -- lift up the pan.  Keep saying your prayer ... cross your fingers ... whatever you do ... until you see ...

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll
How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

... THIS!!  A cake ~ neatly out of the pan in one piece.  I was so excited that mine came out of the pan intact.

Time now to peel off the waxed paper.  I had to do a little coaxing with mine.  I very gently worked on the corners first, loosening them carefully.  Next, I got all the edges loosened ...

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll
How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

... and after that, the rest of the waxed paper peeled up really easily.

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Now comes nerve-wracking part #2 ... rolling up the warm cake.  TIP FROM MOM #2:  Roll it up tightly, gently, and slowly.

Towel-and-all, gently roll the cake up into a log, keeping it as tight as you can.  Then set it aside to cool to room temperature.

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

And now we're onto nerve-wracking part #3 ... unrolling the cooled cake.

Once your cake is cooled, very gently unroll it.  TIP FROM MOM #3:  Unroll very slowly!!  To quote Mom, "This thing will crack on you." 

And, yep, mine sure did.  See those three or so big cracks?  Moving slowly helps avoid this.  I moved slowly, but still couldn't avoid a few cracks.  I just gently squished the cake back together, and 'glued' the cracks up with cream cheese filling.

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the unrolled cake.  And, now, roll your Pumpkin Cake Roll back up!  Just as before, keep it tight and roll slowly.  Oh, and this time, leave the towel out of the cake roll.  :-)

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Success!  Isn't it gorgeous?

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Transfer this beauty to a serving platter and chill.  The cake that is.  And you, too.  You deserve a little chillin' after all your hard work.

Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

After the Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling has chilled, serve yourself up a big slice and enjoy.  

And, WOW, is this ever good!  Totally worth the frayed nerves.  Thanks for the coaching, Mom!

Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling
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Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling
Source:  My Mom - and I'd bet she got the recipe from Libby's years ago!
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 2/3 c. pumpkin puree (100% pure pumpkin)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. finely chopped walnuts
  • Powdered sugar
Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 T. butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. For the Cake: Grease a 15x10x1" jellyroll pan; line with waxed paper or parchment paper (this is very important!). Lightly spray waxed paper with cooking spray.
  2. Beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes; then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice.
  3. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Fold into pumpkin mixture. Spread batter into prepared pan. Top with finely chopped walnuts.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Immediately turn out onto a towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully remove waxed paper. Starting at the narrow end of the cake, roll towel and cake up together. Cool. Once cool, slowly and gently unroll cake.
  5. For the Cream Cheese Filling: Combine powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread evenly over cooled cake.
  6. Roll cake back up. Chill.

Please enjoy these other pumpkin treats from The Kitchen is My Playground ...

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