Trying to clean out and organize the pantry that has suddenly become over-cluttered due to our new rule of keeping the kitchen counters clutter-free, I unearthed a sole, lonely can of organic pumpkin surely left over from this past Thanksgiving. When life hands you pumpkin, you make pumpkin cheesecake! Or, um, something like that.
Making my own pumpkin cheesecake is something I’ve been wanting to do since tasting it at our favorite neighborhood vegan restaurant, Dao Palate. Lucky for me, there is a recipe for one in The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. To be honest, I’ve had this cookbook for a while with every intention of working my way through it, by the end of which I would be transformed into an accomplished vegan patissiere. But since I hadn’t done that yet, and this was in fact the first recipe I’ve tried from the book, I can confess to you: I’m not a great baker. My husband, who doesn’t cook often, is actually a better baker than me. He can gently and patiently coax a pie crust into submission, sweet-talk the cookies into practically rolling themselves out, whereas I generally give up, admit defeat, cry, scream, tear my hair out, and threaten to throw the entire batch of stubborn and uncooperative dough into the garbage.
But this recipe was a dream, so simple to make. It was even simpler because I used a store-bought graham cracker crust, although Patrick-Goudreau includes a recipe for a home-made one. It’s basically just one cup of pumpkin combined with two 16-oz. containers of vegan cream cheese (like Tofutti’s Better than Cream Cheese), Ener-G egg replacer, brown sugar, and some pumpkin pie-type spices. You blend it all up in the food processor, pour it into the crust, and bake. So easy.
I already told you that my baking skills are less than stellar, so I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m boasting when I say that this cheesecake is the best I’ve ever tasted – vegan or non. It is rich and so creamy, but not too dense or heavy, the texture is almost like a mousse but just a little thicker. The pumpkin and spice flavor really comes through, definitely evoking Thanksgiving (why oh why didn’t I make this recipe for Thanksgiving?) but we’re barely into the new year so this still sort of counts as the “holidays,” right? At any rate, the success of this recipe has made me very optimistic and eager to try out more tasty and decadent treats from this book. Speaking of decadent, as you can see in the picture above, I topped off my slice with a little drizzle of chocolate sauce, which is not part of the original recipe, but if you’re going to indulge, you might as well go all the way.