“I CELEBRATE MYSELF, AND SING MYSELF. AND WHAT I ASSUME, YOU SHALL ASSUME. FOR EVERY ATOM BELONGING TO ME AS GOOD BELONGS TO YOU.” Walt Whitman.
HaPpY BiRtHdAy To Me!!!
I LOVE my birthday! It always feels like such a special day to me, because even though I know that I’m not the only one in the world celebrating a birthday today, I TREAT myself as if I am the only one celebrating a birthday today! Every year I make myself a different kind of cake. I have yet to make anything pumpkin this season, so I thought today would be a fitting day for some pumpkin cheesecake! I added a splash (or two!) of bourbon, cuz I am in celebration mode after all! And I used a pecan shortbread crust. But my favorite thing about this cake are the chocolate and white chocolate leaves! Actually, it was the hike in the woods to pick the leaves that I enjoyed the most! This upcoming year, I am going to take the time to find something special in every day. And celebrate more for no reason at all!!! There are so many good things in life to embrace……this cake is just one of them! This year for my birthday, I treated myself to ………
A new camera! I will get it mid week, but it is a Canon DSLR and I cannot wait to really learn how to use it well. This morning, there was snow and ice on the deck and I had to shoot the cake inside with my trusty little point and shoot. So I’m hoping the new camera will give me better options, especially for situations when my lighting is less than ideal. I also treated myself to a couple of new books….From Plate to Pixel (Helene Dujardin) and Will Write for Food (Dianne Jacob). I’m really looking forward to another year of life with a new perspective!
So back to the cheesecake…….
Yields: 12-16 slices
Level of Difficulty: Easy (though the leaves require patience!)
PECAN SHORTBREAD CRUST:
- 1 package (16 oz) of pecan sandies cookies
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Grind the cookies in a food processor to a fine crumb. Pour the butter into the crumb mix and combine. Press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan and set aside.
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE FILLING:
- 3 (8oz) packages of cream cheese at room temperature.
- 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree
- 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup of sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
- pinch salt
- 2 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons of bourbon
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until combined. Add the eggs, egg yolk, sugar, sour cream and spices. Add the flour and mix until incorporated. Add the vanilla and bourbon. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until puffed and slightly golden about 60-65 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 30 minutes and then cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
- 1 1/4 cup of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/4 cup of milk chocolate chips
- 1 1/4cup of white chocolate chips
Let me talk for a minute about these leaves. This is the first time I made these. What I did and what I suggest is making more than you think you will need. I probably made 30 or more leaves. They are fragile and some will always break when you try to remove them. I read a few articles about making these. Some suggested that you use a brush to paint the chocolate on. I bought several and quickly put them aside for another use. Other articles suggested, for the multi-colored leaves, to put spoonfuls of 4 or so colors on a plate and drag the leaf through. What I found worked best for me in all instances was my finger!
I used the same technique for melting all the chocolate (I used semi sweet, milk and white chocolate). I melted a cup of chocolate chips in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. When the chocolate was melted, I added one more 1/4 cup of chips and stirred them till smooth. You will notice with the white chocolate, that when you add the food coloring, the chocolate will seize up a bit…become hard again, quickly. Don’t panic! Once you set it over the simmering water again….it will liquify and blend together.
When you are ready to make the leaves, simply scoop up some chocolate on your finger and paint it on to the BACK of the leaf. (That’s where the veins are and it will show up more of a pattern when you unmold them). Experiment with this…but I found a thick layer unmolded more easily than a thin layer of chocolate. Set the leaf on parchment or wax paper to dry. To make leaves with multiple colors….I just used a different finger on one hand for each color and did the same thing….dip into chocolate and swipe on whatever area of the leaf you wanted to have that color. It helps to have leaves with stems on because it makes it easier to unmold. I made mine in the evening and let them dry on my kitchen counter overnight. To unmold…pull gently on the stem and gently and slowly peel the leaf off of the chocolate. Some will inevitably break. Some articles said you could chill the leaves in the refrigerator. But I found those are the ones that were most difficult to unmold. I think they broke less if there was some ‘give’ to the chocolate.
Once they are unmolded…I think the leaves are easier to store in a container in the fridge. So it may be worth making these in advance of when you need them. Experiment and have fun. I will definitely try these again and am thinking of different types of “molds” than just leaves.
These were not difficult to make and really can lend a special look to cakes, cupcakes etc. I think they are well worth the effort! Let me know how they work out for you and how you used them!
Celebrate and enjoy!