Truth be told there hasn’t been much fall action here in San Diego. It was in the high 80s earlier in the week and even late at night (spying at the Supermoon and all) there hasn’t been much reason to wear a sweater. I still haven’t had any occasion to pull out the polka dot tights I bought this year (re: ever year). But we are T-2 weeks away from Thanksgiving and like a lot of people, this past weekend was a popular choice for hosting a Friendsgiving dinner. So weather and foliage cooperation or not, we faked it until we made it here in southern California (as we are wont to do) 🙃
We had quite the spread, from the traditional: turkey, balsamic roasted brussel sprouts, green bean casserole, mushroom stuffing, and mac and cheese to the decidedly not: namely carne asada, longaniza sausage, pollo asado and rice and beans. And then for dessert something somewhere in the middle, this: pumpkin and caramelized white chocolate cheesecake with a hint of miso for sweet and salty vibes and topped off with clouds of fluffy brown sugar meringue.
I had never had pumpkin pie until we moved to Canada when I was 16. To be honest, the traditional Thanksgiving spread is quite intimidating and not really immediately appetizing to someone who is not familiar with it. I was incredulous that the jellied cranberry stuff was eaten with the turkey and that they were reallyreallyREALLY topping potatoes with marshmallows. As for pumpkin pie, I can’t say it was love at first sight, my immediate reaction after that first bite = “hmm….vegetable-y?”. But it eventually grew on me. However I can’t say most of my family felt the same way. So this cheesecake was in a way a compromise: the caramelized white chocolate balances any vegetable-forward pumpkinness, and the miso adds the tiniest hint of sweet and salty. You add cinnamon and the usual pumpkin spice suspects for holiday cheer and then top it all off with toasted brown sugar meringue.
PUMPKIN, CARAMELIZED WHITE CHOCOLATE & MISO CHEESECAKE
FOR THE CHEESECAKE:
- 1 cup of caramelized white chocolate
- 7 oz of pumpkin puree
- 3 bricks of cream cheese at room temperature (18 oz)
- 5 oz of honey graham crackers
- 5 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of white miso
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
FOR THE BROWN SUGAR MERINGUE:
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1/3 cup of water
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 egg whites, preferably at room temperature
FOR THE CHEESECAKE:
- Process graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. Add to a bowl with the melted butter and mix to combine. Line the bottom of a 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper then press the graham cracker and butter mixture to form an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Place in the fridge to set.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Beat cream cheese in a bowl until its smooth. Then slowly add in the sugar and salt.
- Next, beat in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time and then add the vanilla and lemon juice last.
- Put a kettle or pan on the stove and heat up enough water to fill a pan for a water bath.
- Split the cream cheese mixture mostly evenly into two bowls. To one bowl add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger then beat well. To the other bowl add the caramelized white chocolate and miso then mix well.
- Line the outside of the chilled springform pan with foil so that it completely covers the sides. This will protect it from the water in the water bath.
- Pour the pumpkin cream cheese mixture into the pan first and then pour the caramelized white chocolate cream cheese mixture over top of that. Use a knife or thin spatula to make swirls.
- Put it into the oven and cook for 55-65 minutes. It should seem mostly set on the outside but still have some jiggle in the middle.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and then let it cool completely before moving it into the fridge. It should chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours prior to eating.
FOR THE BROWN SUGAR MERINGUE:
- In a pan heat the brown sugar and water until it reaches 240F, swirl gently if needed to mix
- Meanwhile whip the egg whites until frothy, add the cream of tartar
- Keep whipping until it reaches soft peaks, add in the cinnamon
- Once it reaches stiff peaks, slowly add in the hot brown sugar syrup. Add in slowly and whip constantly to incorporate
- Set aside.
- Before serving top the chilled cheesecake with the brown sugar meringue and use a blowtorch to toast the top of it.
- If you can find them, these little apples are super cute to add on top :)
Note you can definitely omit the miso if this seems a little too out there, it works very well without it. But also fear not, it is not enough miso to give your cheesecake ramen vibes, it just adds depth to the caramel flavours. And if on the other hand you are not a huge white chocolate fan, I am neither, but trust me, caramelized white chocolate is a whole other story. Lastly, because pictures of the current situation I find myself in (76F, cloudless skies, lovely slightly smog-induced magenta sunsets, etc.) I thought some old pictures from a foggy and vividly orange fall in New York would be more appropriate (hoping it looks like this when I go there for 🍂 Thanksgiving 🍂)