Monday, September 10, 2007

Kabocha Squash Cheesecake

Kabocha Squash Cheesecake

Kabocha Squash Cheesecake

I need to have more faith in cookbooks. Lately i've been so wary even though the recipes have been great!

Fall is just around the corner. I'd been in the mood for comforting, spiced baked goods, so I picked up a 3 lb red kabocha squash from the Food Co-op and decided to try Pichet Ong's recipe for Kabocha Squash Cheesecake.

This isn't your average cheesecake. It's a little more like a pumpkin pie in that the filling has a very high ratio of squash flesh to cream cheese. Consequently, it's not nearly as dense and retains that silky but not mushy texture of good pumpkin pie.

The crust is amazing too. I worried the Mi-Del graham crackers would be too dense, but they worked perfectly. The crust is a little thicker than usual, and it stayed nice and crunchy. I loved the balance of spices too!

A nice dollop of whipped cream would suit if the cake isn't quite rich enough for you. The cookbook suggests a little condensed milk chantilly cream. I will probably make this for Thanksgiving.

Kabocha Squash Cheesecake with Walnut Crust
adapted from Pichet Ong's The Sweet Spot
Kabocha Squash Filling
one 3 lb kabocha squash
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp brandy (I used rum.)
2 large eggs, room temp

Walnut Crust
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
11 graham crackers (174 g), crushed into fine crumbs, about 1.5 cups
(I used mi-del honey grahams.)
2 tsp grated lime zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt

1. To make the filling: Prepare a steamer by filling a large round casserole with water to a depth of 3 inches; the casserole should be able to hold the squash comfortably and have a tight fitting lid. Put a steamer rack or enough crumpled heavy-duty foil to support the squash on the bottom; the rack or foil should be just above the waterline. Set over medium heat and bring to a steady simmer. Put the whole squash on the rack, cover the pot, and steam until a knife pierces the flesh easily (about 1hr.)

2. Remove from the heat, uncover the pot, and cool the squash in the steamer until cool enough to handle.

3. Meanwhile, make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan, line with paper and butter the paper. Set aside.

4. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 15 minutes. Cool completely. Turn the oven down to 300.

5. Put the walnuts and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the walnuts are coarsley ground. Transfer the walnuts to a mixing bowl and add the graham cracker crumbs, zest, cinnamon, ginger, and salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Mix well, then add the melted butter and mix with your hands until everything is moistened. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press into an even layer on the bottom.

6. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool completely. Leave the oven on.

7. When the squash is cool enough to handle, remove it from the steamer, cut it in half, and scoop out and discard the seeds and strings. Scoop out 2.5 cups of the squash flesh into a small bowl. Reserve any remaining squash for another use.

8. Put the cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and process, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally, until the mixture is light and smooth. Add the squash and process again, scraping down the sides of the bowl of the bowl occasionally, until smooth. Add the brandy and eggs and process until just incorporated. Transfer to a bowl and finish mixing with a rubber spatula.

9. Transfer the filling to the cooled crust. Bake until the center is set but still slightly jiggly, about 1 hour. Cool completely and unmold.

NOTES: I think steaming your squash upside down would be good. The top of my squash was much thicker than the bottom, and didn't quite cook all the way through.

Keeping the walnuts pretty coarse adds a nice crunch.


Mercedes said...

I've been meaning to tell you how much I enjoy your site- lovely photos and excellent baking. This cheesecake looks particularly good. Keep up the good work!

Kathy said...

I received my first Kabocha from my vegetable delivery service today and found your post when I googled to find out more about this particular squash. Your recipe looks wonderful and I will bookmark it for future use. Thanks!