getting older, and a pumpkin cheesecake

So, I have a birthday next week.

I should probably start ignoring my birthday eventually. I could pretend that it doesn’t really exist when it rolls around each October, like clockwork. Perhaps I should become the type of woman who always lies about my age, always pretending to be five, then six, then seven years younger than I really am.

The simple truth is that I kind of like my birthday. And also, I’m a terrible liar, so lying about my age just isn’t an option.

I didn’t have lots of birthday parties when I was growing up, but the day was always acknowledged in some special way. And, while my dad would tell me that my birthday is really no big deal, to get over it already, I can’t help but feel a little special on that one day each year.

I have never worn a shiny, bejeweled tiara on my birthday, but I usually feel like I’m wearing one. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling like Queen of the Day, at least one day each year. We should all feel that way some times – well, lots of times, really.

So, while my birthday next week isn’t a milestone birthday – I’ll be 39 – I think I’ll still enjoy the day.

Because, really, isn’t every birthday a milestone?

I’m just thrilled to be alive. I’m happy and healthy, doing work I love, spending my days with a family I adore, and knowing I have friends who are always there for me. Those are the milestones I’ll be celebrating next week.

Yield: Serves 10-12.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

My key to a perfectly un-cracked cheesecake is using a waterbath and letting the cheesecake hang out in the oven with the door cracked for a little while when it's done cooking. I describe the process in the recipe here.

This is not an overly sweet cheesecake. While it looks rich and heavy, it certainly doesn't taste like it. Which can be dangerous to the hips, of course, so consider yourself warned.

Ingredients:

For Crust:
8 ounces gingersnaps, finely ground in food processor
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Pinch kosher salt

For Cheesecake:
32 ounces cream cheese (4 eight-ounce packages), softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Make crust:

1. Place rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Place a round of parchment in the bottom of the pan and butter the parchment.

2. Stir together the finely ground gingersnaps, melted butter, and salt in a bowl until well combined. Wrap your fingers in plastic wrap and press the crumbs onto the bottom and approx 1 1/2 inches up the sides of springform pan.

3. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a rack. Once cooled, place on a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap sides of pan in preparation for baking in a water bath. Set aside.

Make filling:

1. Decrease oven temperature to 325 degrees. Place a kettle or pot of water on to boil.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a large bowl and an electric mixer) beat cream cheese and light brown sugar at medium high speed, 3 to 5 minutes, until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each egg addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Add vanilla, pumpkin puree, spices, and salt, and beat at low speed until smooth. Pour into cooled crust.

3. Place foil-wrapped filled springform pan into a roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan and around the wrapped springform pan, taking care not to splash the cheesecake. Place roasting pan in oven and bake for about 1 hour, until the cake is puffy around edges but still trembles slightly in the middle when pan is shaken gently. Turn off oven, crack oven door, and let the cheesecake sit in oven for about 1 hour. Remove pan from oven, carefully lift out of waterbath, and let cool completely on a rack.

4. Chill, loosely covered, at least 8 hours prior to serving. When ready to serve, run a blunt knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen it from springform pan and remove sides of pan.

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21 Responses to “spicy zucchini and ricotta fritters”

  1. It’s cold here today too….but there are no flip flops in sight! It’s about 40degrees! lol. I miss those “cold” Florida days ๐Ÿ˜‰

    This has all my favorite ingredients! And can you believe that I am Italian and have never made any fritters?! Unheard of right?

    I will definitely have to pin these for later!

    mmmmmmmmmm ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food — November 11, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    I think I’m just now able to embrace fall foods… I do miss summer, but when I see these leaves, it just makes me so happy.

  3. Karriann Graf — November 12, 2011 @ 9:17 pm

    Yikes I’d be freezing in Key West if it hit 37′ degrees, lots of houses don’t have heat since normally our winters are mild. Stay Warm up there.

    These fritters look awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Adrienne — November 12, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

    I had no idea Florida got that cold! These look fab, by the way.

  5. Paula — November 12, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

    I have a hard time believing that you would have any moments left unproductive in your day let alone an hour! These fritters look wonderful.

    Take heart in knowing on December 21st the days start getting longer again and you’ll be enjoying the sights and sounds from your front porch rocker before your know it ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Chris — November 13, 2011 @ 11:19 am

    ha ha, yeah I had a hard time feeling sorry for my in laws when they mentioned how “cold” it was in Florida yesterday….and out on their boat in the afternoon.

    I like these fritters. I made them before but not with the jalapenos like yours, I LOVE that. These would be good on their own or as the literal base of another recipe. Like maybe sauce on a plate, then your cakes, and then topped with strips of spicy grilled chicken. Can you tell you got my mind thinking? ha ha

  7. DessertForTwo — November 14, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    What a great vegetarian dinner for two idea! Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve been thinking about you lots, sweet lady. I hope you are still sitting on your rocker, enjoying the last few moments of the day, sunset or not, you deserve some relaxing ‘you’ time.

    Lots of love ๐Ÿ™‚
    tina

  8. Rachel — November 14, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

    These look awesome. Do you ever put any kind of sauce with these? What do you recommend?

    I am embarassed to say that I don’t think I’ve ever had a fritter. Are they similar to potato pancakes? The picture reminds me of potato latkes. YUM.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 14th, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

      Rachel,
      Yes, they’re probably most similar to a potato pancake. I’d think a garlic aioli would be nice with these.

  9. Nutmeg Nanny — November 15, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

    These fritters look great! I always grab up zucchini every time I see it. I can’t help it. I love it so much!

  10. Sook — November 16, 2011 @ 3:37 am

    I love zucchini fritters. They look great!

  11. Adria — February 3, 2012 @ 12:44 am

    I made these tonight, and they were a complete hit! What a great recipe and simple dinner. Thanks!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — February 3rd, 2012 @ 7:41 am

      I’m so glad, Adria! Thanks for the feedback.

  12. Lori — August 5, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    These look so good! I just “discovered” them (when they were featured in Gojee’s Top Three email). I was looking for another excuse to stop by the farmers market and I am so happy to have it now! I need zucchini!

    I was wondering if you had an approximate measurement for how much shredded zucchini would be in 2 medium? I grew up with garden grown zucchini that Mom never picked before they were at least 18 inches long (no exaggeration, really) so the tiny things in grocery stores are so cute to me. I’m not really sure how much a normal “medium” zucchini would produce. haha

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 5th, 2012 @ 10:40 am

      Hi Lori — glad you found the site! 2 medium (grocery-store) zucchini would yield between 2-3 cups shredded zucchini.

  13. Kevin — August 5, 2012 @ 10:56 am

    Hi – Do you have to squeeze the zucchini of moisture after it is shredded? Thanks. Can’t wait to try this.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 5th, 2012 @ 11:11 am

      Nope, you don’t. I let mine rest on paper towels to sop up any extra moisture, but you don’t have to squeeze it.

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