Cheesecake is an interesting dessert in that most people you attempt to serve it to will either be outspokenly a fan of any cheesecake that crosses their path, or a vocal cheesecake despiser. Most desert foods don't seem to evoke such feelings, sugar cookies for example seem to receive a medium response from nearly all people. I have always liked cheesecake, but I'm pretty sure it is more reflective of my general love of dairy products than anything else. Yogurt or cheesecake; I would be pretty happy with either.
Last year, while I lived with my roommate Lucy, we baked five cheesecakes...in six months (we didn't mention this to our doctors). The two of us enjoyed sampling cheesecakes that had some extra pizazz, so I think we ended up making one of each Grapefruit, Lemon, Bailey's Irish Cream, Apple, and Ginger.
Since Monday was the six month anniversary of Nathanael and my marriage I decided to make us a special cheesecake using the re-occurring ingredient which is the mascot of our gardening bounty: pumpkin. I came across this recipe the cookbook, "Simply in Season" by Mary Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert, but I altered it just a bit to suit my ingredients. I also concocted the chocolate coconut crust listed below, because we don't really have gram crackers just running around the house. Using coconut instead of crumbs makes this a good celiac alternative, but since coconut is even more widely disliked than cheesecake, feel free to substitute crumbs on the crust recipe and reduce the sugar/cocoa.
Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with Chocolate Coconut Crust
For the crust:
2 cups of flaked coconut
1 cup wheat bran (or more coconut for celiacs)
3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
4 Tablespoons of baking cocoa
4-6 Tablespoons of softened butter (or oil), depending on the absorbency of your coconut.
Mix crust ingredients using a fork or your hands. Combine with a little bit of water and press onto the bottom and sides of a 10 inch springform pan. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes, then let the crust cool until you are ready to fill it.
For the cake:
A. 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese (don't use non-fat, and if you don't have a food processor or blender substitute with low fat sour cream)
20 oz cream cheese, softened (use low or full fat to your discretion, I used some of each)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Puree cottage cheese in blender or food processor until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into a bowl.
B. 2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix in. Remove 1 1/2 cups batter and set aside
C. 1 1/2 cups pumpkin, cooked and pureed
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Add to the remaining batter
D. 1/3 baking cocoa
1 cup chocolate chips, melted
Add to the reserved batter. Stir until thoroughly blended.
Pour the pumpkin mixture into crust lined pan, then spoon chocolate mixture on top in small rounds; swirl together with a knife. Bake in a preheated oven at 325, in a pan of water (1-2 inches deep) if possible until edge of filling is set, 60-65 minutes. Let cheesecake stand in oven with door closed for 30 minutes. Remove and cool on rack to room temperature, about 3 hours. cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving. Serves 12-16.