We have had a good crop of pumpkins this season & when thinking of ways to use them, I kept coming back to the idea of warm & inviting pumpkin pie, laden with a soft mousse like, spice filled centre, surrounded by a crunchy crust, laced with ginger & butter.
I remember working with a lovely lady some years back, who was over here in Australia from the US. We were chatting about her plans for her family’s upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. She was describing all the fabulous dishes she would be making & how excited she was to have the opportunity to bring a little piece of her home to life here. It was towards the end of the conversation that she appeared to almost physically deflate & she looked at me & said, “The only disappointing thing is the I can’t find any pumpkin.”
To say I was confused was an understatement! Pumpkins are everywhere in the supermarkets & green grocers – they come in all shapes & sizes, various colours & types. Without wanting to sound condescending, I said to her, “Did you check the fruit & vegetable section at the supermarket?”
She looked at me as perplexed as I felt & said, “Is that where they keep the cans?”
I worked really hard to keep a straight face at this point & explained that canned pumpkin was not really a thing here – we just cook the fresh stuff & mash it up. After looking solemnly at each other, we both ended up laughing until tears were running down our faces. You probably had to be there, but, it truly was hilarious!
From there we talked all things pumpkin & the best ways to make the fresh stuff like it came from a can! I have, obviously, never forgotten that conversation & the idea of using pumpkin in a pie has always been an interesting concept. So although my Aussie palette initially pouted at the idea, I convinced it to give it a try by reminding myself there was cream cheese & a buttery biscuit crumb in there … HELLO salivation!
I decided to make this particular version as a treat for my beautiful Mum’s birthday. Mum is a big foodie like me & we love to experiment on each other with recipes. We are huge fans of all things cheesecake & so this was an opportunity to make something really special to help her celebrate. I would have happily presented it in a big messy lump in a bowl, but sometimes, on occasions such as this, I do like to get a little fancy.
Now, I think I have mentioned before that presentation is not my forte‘, I tend to overfill things, or leave fingerprints, or my cakes are a bit lopsided, or my slices uneven, but, for all that, I do love it when something tastes as good as it looks & in this case, it definitely did! I was also pretty happy with how they looked all layered in these glasses that otherwise hardly get used.
The flavours in this dish are just a little ‘bitey’, thanks to the ginger nut biscuits & the mixture of spices in the pumpkin cheesecake mix. These provide a warmth to the smooth texture of the cream cheese & makes it perfect for a cool Autumn night. Pistachios & pumpkin make wonderful bedfellows & combined with the spices, take you away on a journey that is slightly reminiscent of East Indian cuisine. Warm, woody, earthy & very, very satisfying.
Anyway, enough from me & my ramblings, here’s how to make these gorgeous Pumpkin & Pistachio Cheesecake Stacks;
- CRUMB MIX;
- 1/2 packet ginger nut biscuits
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 250 grams light cream cheese
- 1/4 cup brown sugar - (I used coconut sugar)
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 250 - 300 grams cooked pumpkin, pureed
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice powder
- 1 pinch cardamon
- 1 pinch cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum* (optional)
- 1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
- CRUMB MIX;
- Using a food processor, or rolling pin, crush the ginger nuts biscuits to create crumbs.
- Add melted butter to crumbs & stir well to combine.
- CHEESECAKE MIX;
- Preheat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius.
- Peel & chop the pumpkin into roughly 2 centimetre cubes.
- Wrap the pumpkin in foil, place on a baking tray & cook in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until pumpkin is cooked through.
- Allow to cool completely.
- Using a food processor, puree the cooked pumpkin until smooth.
- Using either a stand mixer or food processor, combine cream cheese, sugars, cream & vanilla & mix until smooth.
- Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, mixed spice, cloves, cardamom, and xantham gum.
- Mix well until smooth.
- Spoon about 2 tablespoons of crumbs into the base of about 1 cup capacity serving glasses / ramekins.
- Layer on a few chopped pistachios.
- Divide cheesecake mixture evenly between the dishes - about 3 tablespoons or so will do it.
- Repeat the layering with crumbs, nuts & cheesecake.
- Garnish top with more pistachios or even some whipped cream if you like.
- Refrigerate for about an hour before serving.
- * - if you do not have Xanthum Gum, you can leave it out all together, or for a firmer set, you can use 1 teaspoon of gelatine dissolved in 1/4 boiling water. Add this at the same point at the xanthum gum.
This has been a big hit with the whole family & a great way to showcase the versatility of the humble garden pumpkin, fresh, not canned! 🙂
I hope you like this as much as we do!
Have you ever been confused by a cultural difference that was completely unexpected? What is your favourite pumpkin recipe?
I love hearing from you, so please feel free to share your thoughts about this or any of my recipes.