Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Marshmallow Vanilla Frosting

This recipe has to be my favorite decadent dessert ever.  I don't like the texture of pumpkin pie but love the taste, and this was positively delicious!

Original recipe:

Pumpkin Cheesecake

"For crust:
·        Nonstick vegetable oil spray
·        2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 9 ounces)
·        1 cup pecans (about 3 1/2 ounces)
·        1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
·        2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
·        1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For filling:
·        4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
·        2 cups sugar
·        1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
·        5 large eggs
·        3 tablespoons all purpose flour
·        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·        1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
·        1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
·        1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
·        1/4 teaspoon salt
·        2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For topping:
·        2 cups mini marshmallows or large marshmallows cut into 1/2-inch cubes
·        1/4 cup whole milk
·        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·        1/8 teaspoon salt
·        1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Grind cookie crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, and ginger in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter; using on/off turns, process to blend. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; press onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of pan. Bake crust until set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool completely.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in pumpkin. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating on low speed to incorporate each addition. Add flour, spices, and salt; beat just to blend. Beat in vanilla. Transfer filling to cooled crust. Bake until filling is just set in center and edges begin to crack (filling will move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool 1 hour. Run knife around sides of pan to release crust. Chill cheesecake uncovered in pan overnight.
Stir marshmallows and milk in medium saucepan over low heat until marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Cool marshmallow mixture to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Add sour cream to marshmallow mixture; fold gently just to blend. Pour topping over cheesecake and spread evenly, leaving 1/2 inch uncovered around edges. Chill to set topping, at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Cheesecake can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled."

I was lazy, and mixed 1/2 cup lowfat sour cream with one tub of Marshmallow Fluff and a Tbl. of Vanilla Bean Paste.  Perfection of the taste buds.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pomegranate Spinach Salad

Potluck size:

10-12 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed & spun dry
1.5 cups Salted Caramel Walnuts, chopped
1 cup Pomegranate infused Craisins
1 cup Feta Cheese(or Bleu Cheese, my fave)
Pomegranate Dressing(recipe follows)

Combine spinach leaves and dressing JUST before ready to serve.  Top with walnuts, Craisins, and Feta Cheese.

Pomegranate Dressing:
2 Tbl. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Tbl. Dijon Mustard
4 Tbl. Pomegranate Infused Vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tbl. honey
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. soy sauce

Whisk all ingredients well.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Shake or stir well before using.

Salted Caramel Walnuts

The caramel flavor comes from the brown sugar.  They're crunchy, sweet, and the kosher salt balances them out perfectly!  Don't skip the course kosher salt.  I will try sea salt next time just to be different.  And yes, I can tell the difference, I love kosher and sea salt.  Do yourself a favor and throw out your plain old iodized salt and make the switch, you use less and it tastes SO much better.  

3 cups walnut halves
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar(unpacked)
course kosher salt

In a large non-stick pan combine walnuts and sugar.  Stir constantly(a slim silicone spatula works great for this) over medium-medium/low heat until walnuts are heated through and sugars are liquified into a deep brown(but not burnt).  Watch closely as you will need to stay in front of the stove top the entire time.  Pour out onto a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil.  Spread out.  While still warm sprinkle with kosher salt.

I'm using these for a spinach, cranberry, feta salad with pomegranate vinaigrette.  You can also store them in an airtight container when completely cool.  Be careful not to burn yourself when you sneak a warm one, because you will not be able to help yourself.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ravioli with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

No fat grams were left out in this little impressive dish.  Don't hesitate to substitute fat free or lower fat versions though if you're trying to be reasonable.  This came from some leftover ingredients floating around in the fridge so even the amounts are eyeball estimates.

2 lbs. fresh or frozen jumbo ravioli, cooked and drained.
Bring large pot of water to boil, add about 2 tsp. kosher salt.  Boil according to package directions. Turn off heat when done, but do not drain.  Reserve a little pasta water for sauce.

2 Tbl. olive oil or butter
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
5 cloves garlic minced
kosher salt, fresh ground pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 Tbl. sugar
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin puree(not pie mix)
1 cup whipped cream

Heat large sauce pan on medium-high heat, add olive oil to pan, diced onions, and spices.  Saute until onions are near translucent and then add sugar.  This will help caramelize the onions, just watch closely so they don't burn or it will make the sauce bitter.  Add garlic and a little broth until garlic is tender.  Whisk in remaining broth and pumpkin.  Simmer on low for a few minutes.  Strain raviolis from water and slip gently into pumpkin mixture.  Add pasta water if needed to coat all raviolis.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese and candied pecans.