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Friday, October 22, 2010

Squash Chocolate Cheese Cake - oh yes indeed!

Another chapter in the "using the acorn squash gift" saga.

Slice and Bake Squash Cookies
Today I was sitting around making some homemade Chex Mix for my hubby and baking off the last few cookies from the squash sugar cookie dough I made last week-end.  I saved the pieces I didn't want to re-roll and formed a log - froze them - and today did slice and bake.  They are still yummy!  Anyway - on to the cheese cake...

For the past 20 years, my husband has requested a cheese cake baked from scratch for his birthday cake.  It's what he loves.  He wasn't home on his birthday this year so I wanted to bake a cheese cake for him for this week-end's "make up for missing it" birthday dinner.  I laughingly told him the other night that I might make him an acorn squash cheese cake.  "Ha ha", I said, "I was just joking".  He said, "well, I like pumpkin cheese cake...go for it".  So I thought and thought and decided, okay, let's see what I can do!

I saw a recipe for some pumpkin bars earlier this week but didn't have, nor could I find, all the ingredients, so I mish-mashed a couple of recipes together and I think it will work.  I just threw it together and it is in the oven now.  It surely does smell good!  I'll let you know after the birthday dinner Saturday night.  (I tasted the batter - so I have no doubt it will taste as good as it smells)

Into the oven it goes!

So, here's the recipe I came up with....

ACORN SQUASH CHOCOLATE CHEESE CAKE

Crust:
14 Oreo Cookies
Filling:
2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup roasted acorn squash, squished (that's a technical term) and dried*
3 Tbsp. unbleached flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. sea salt (fine grind)
1 tsp good vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup Milk Chocolate morsels
DIRECTIONS:
Set out eggs and cream cheese to reach room temperature
Squeeze (or mash) roasted acorn squash until pureed consistency and drain until as dry as possible using strainer and paper towels – or a clean cotton cloth.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Prepare bottom and lower sides of a 9 inch spring form pan with cooking spray.
Set aside
In a food processor, pulse Oreo cookies until finely ground.
Transfer crumb mixture to the prepared pan and press gently into bottom – use a measuring cup bottom to firm the crust to ensure it bakes firmly together.
Bake crust for no more than 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Place cream cheese in clean food processor bowl (wipe out the cookie crumbs) and pulse until smooth.  Add sugar, acorn squash puree, flour, spices, vanilla, and salt.  Pulse until thoroughly smooth.  Scrape down sides of processor as needed (I had to scrape down 3 times until everything was fully incorporated).
Add eggs one at a time (break into measuring cup and pour through shoot while processor is on – blending each egg before adding the next).
Set aside.
In a 1 quart microwave safe bowl, place chocolate in microwave and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each until melted smooth - let cool for a few minutes but not to the point it is firming back up.  Add 1 cup of cream cheese mixture from food processor to chocolate and mix thoroughly.  This is what you will use to swirl into the cheese cake.
Use a paper towel to wipe down the sides of the cooled spring form pan to remove any crumbs.  Spray sides of pan with cooking spray (two times around for thorough coverage).
Pour remaining cheese cake mixture from processor bowl into prepared pan on top of baked crust.
Drop dollops of chocolate cheese cake mixture on top of squash cheese cake mixture.  Swirl with a butter knife or the handle of a spoon – taking care not to hit the crust on the bottom.  Don’t over-mix – just make swirly patterns.
Bake until cheese cake is set but jiggles a little bit when gently shaken.  Should take 45 to 50 minutes. (I just checked mine at 45 minutes and I'm going to let it go 3-4 more minutes)
After removed from oven allow to cool on counter until it can be safely placed in fridge.  Chill for at least 4 hours in pan (in refrigerator) but overnight is even better.  Run a warm sharp knife around edge of pan* and carefully release spring form.  Carefully remove side of pan.  It is quite challenging to remove the cheese cake from the bottom of the spring form pan.  I generally cut slices and serve on individual plates straight from the spring form bottom.  However, if you need to present the entire cheesecake – VERY carefully, use the same hot water and thin knife technique (see below) to release the cake from the bottom of the pan…very slowly.  Once totally released, you can nudge it onto a serving round.  I’ve never successfully done this without losing a hunk of crust because a spring form pan has a little lip on it.  There are special cheesecake pans – but I don’t have one.  I think I may order one from Amazon.
*Hot water and thin knife procedure for removing cheese cake from spring form pan...
Prepare a tall vessel of hot water and put your thinnest knife (a filet knife is great) into the water  – wipe it with a cloth and run it around the sides of the pan to release the cake (make sure the knife side is touching the pan so you don’t gouge the cake).  You may need to dip and dry it 2 or 3 times as you release the cake.

Oh, I hear the timer - gotta go - Bon Appetit Y'all!

(UPDATE - See comments for a slight tweak to improve the recipe)

2013 UPDATE:
Ian selected this cheese cake for his 20th birthday (he's no longer a teen!)  Here are a couple of photos of the finished product.





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3 comments:

  1. In retrospect, I would have used only 1/2 cup of chocolate morsels - there was a lot of chocolate and it was heavy - I got cracks when it cooled along chocolate lines...now, that won't affect the taste...but it is a potential correction for "appearance".

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  2. I promised a follow-up - this is TO DIE FOR delicious! My teen asked what it was and I told him "spice chocolate cheese cake" because I don't think he would touch it if he knew it had squash in it (oh heavens no - no vegetables allowed!). Same deal with the cookies...wouldn't have eaten them had he realized they had squash in them...but he at them ALL UP! I saw that he had eaten a piece of cheese cake for his "breakfast dessert"... I could tell by the chocolate oreo crust crumbs left on the counter. Teen-agers, what are you gonna do with them? Huh?

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  3. Wow how unique is THAT? And pretty creative. :)

    I would not mind the cracks at all. In fact, I always find that a real homemade cheesecake NEEDS to have cracks! I know that many people disagree, but that akways gives it that 'good old times'-feeling. :)

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