Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tis the Season for Cheesecake

As many know, I like to bake up treats for the holidays and give them out to show my appreciation.  Appreciation of those who have made my life easier through their dedication to their business and customer service.  I still find it kind of, well, for lack of a better word, strange that I am still hearing, “Mary, you’re the only one who does this for us every year.”  I find it strange that I keep hearing, “Be kind” all year long, yet at a time when kindness and appreciation are paramount, it gets lost around Black Friday until the New Year.  Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure kindness is in existence at this time of the year; probably just missing it while I’m in the kitchen baking.

By the way, just as I thought I was finished baking, dang it, wouldn’t you know I missed someone in my rushing around.  So here is my baking quote for the holiday season, “I am finished baking for the holidays, said no one ever!”, and yes, you can quote me if it’s applicable to yourself.

This is the year of pumpkin cheesecake; being a huge fan of pumpkin and cheesecake, is it no wonder they needed to meet and marry?  The recipe I will share with you has been in my personal recipe book since January 2011.  However, this year I decided to try out different cookie crusts than plain graham crackers; and add toppings like sour cream or chocolate.  While Roy and I enjoyed this taste adventure, I can definitely say I witnessed the absolute ingestion of these treats by the staff of the San Juan Record.  Unfortunately for editor, Ryan Collins, we were so engrossed in conversation that I do not think he even got to taste any; or maybe a crumb or two could have survived for his tasting pleasure.  Personally seeing the staff’s smiles, hearing the “mmm”s and “yum”s gave me a very good feeling deep inside.  You’re all awesome people, thanks for a great year!

By the way, the recipe bakes up one-9 inch cake, but can easily be used to fill up four to six - 4 inch mini spring form pans.  Just remember to make sure you seal the pan bottoms with aluminum foil, they will leak!  Speaking from experience here, as one new pan I purchased stated, “Guaranteed not to leak”.  Maybe in their test kitchen, but my oven was a whole other ballgame; thank goodness for self-cleaning ovens!

Just another example of my favorite quote by Helen Keller, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”  So to everyone, everywhere, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and enjoy the adventure that is life!

Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 and ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup melted butter
3 (8 oz.) packages softened cream cheese
1 cup pure pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
3 eggs, beaten


Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare the 9 inch spring form pan by spray with non-stick baking spray; line bottom with parchment paper and spray paper with non-stick baking spray as well.  Place pan on aluminum foil and bring up halfway along sides, pressing to seal against pan.

In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs with butter; mix together using a fork or pastry cutter until crumbly mixture forms.  Spread mixture evenly on bottom of pan and 1/3 way up the sides; place in oven for 5 minutes, remove and set aside.

In a large bowl, on medium speed, cream together cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, spice mix and eggs until well blended and smooth.  Pour mixture in pan, bake for one hour.  Turn off heat, open oven door slightly and let cake rest in oven for 30 minutes.  Remove cake, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight; use a warmed knife around sides of cake before releasing spring form pan.  Slide cake onto plate, removing parchment paper as it moves.

Makes 10-12 servings.

Options: Use shortbread, chocolate shortbread, honey or cinnamon graham crackers instead of regular graham crackers. 


Sour cream: 2 cups sour cream, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla extract.  In small bowl, combine all ingredients until smooth.  At 55 minutes of baking, spread over cake, sprinkle pumpkin pie spice over topping, bake for 5 minute before turning off oven and go into resting stage.

Chocolate Candy Shell:  After cake has rested, melt 1 cup of Ghirardelli dark chocolate melting wafers, spread over cake, and continue with overnight resting.

Chocolate Ganache:  1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 cup chopped chocolate (milk or semi-sweet is traditional; bittersweet is my personal choice).  In a small saucepan, medium heat, heat the cream until bubbles just begin to form around the rim of the pan. Add the chocolate and stir until partially melted; remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth.  Spread over cake and continue with overnight resting; the ganache will thicken as it cools.

Mary Cokenour

Origination date: January 14, 2011
Updated version: December 2, 2018

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