I have said before that I prefer canned pumpkin to fresh. But then a bunch of pumpkin plants sprouted up in the compost this past spring and come fall we had a pumpkin bonanza.
I could not bring myself to toss aside those precious pumpkins after Halloween was over so I decided to give roasting another chance. I still don’t think fresh pumpkin has the concentrated, rich flavor that canned does. Fresh roasted pumpkin gives off more of a eau d’squash, a delicate and warm character that lacks intensity but still adapts itself nicely to cinnamon and cloves and all things fall.
It took me a couple of tries to get the roasting-a-whole-pumpkin-thing right. It seems very straight forward, but one time I didn’t leave it in long enough and the pumpkin was too hard to scoop out and I had to use a pairing knife to get the skin off and it took me forever and I might have cursed a little.
The next time I left it in longer than I was planning…okay, I forgot it was in the oven….. and it was basically mush.
But I think I now have it mastered—I should I’m on my sixth pumpkin. Here’s what I’ve discovered. Leave your pumpkin in the oven for at least 8 hours, although 9-10 seemed to give me the best results. Take it out of the oven and if you have time, let it cool, then put it in the fridge (still wrapped in foil) until it is cold. Chilling like this seems to pull the flesh away from the skin and makes it super easy to scoop out. Don’t purée too much at a time—that doesn’t work—and by the way, pumpkin purée freezes great! Do you want some? I’ve got about six pumpkins worth in my freezer.
Adapted from CHOW
To make your own pumpkin purée, remove the stem of the pumpkin and wrap tightly with foil. Place in the oven and turn the oven to its lowest setting, about 200°F. Bake for 8-10 hours (I usually put the pumpkin in before I go to bed and take it out in the morning). Remove from oven and let cool, then refrigerate until cold. Once cold, remove foil and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp and discard or save seeds to roast later. Scoop out flesh and place in the food processor a couple cups at a time. Purée to a smooth consistency. Transfer to freezer bags and freeze for up to 6 months or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
- 9 ounces gingersnap cookies
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more to grease the pan
- 1 cup pumpkin purée [see below on how to make your own pumpkin purée]
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- Heat oven to 325°F and arrange rack in the middle. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
- Place gingersnaps in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until cookies are fine crumbs (you should have about 2 cups). Stop the food processor and pour in the melted butter, pulse a couple more times until the crumbs are moistened.
- Pour the crumb mixture into the springform pan and press evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake until the crust is darker and fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let crust cool on a wire rack while you make the cheesecake batter.
- Combine pumpkin, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl and set aside. Combine sugar and flour in another bowl and whisk to break up any lumps.
- Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Pour in the sugar mixture and beat until incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
- Add the vanilla seeds and 1 egg yolk and beat on low until incorporated. Add remaining yolk and whole eggs, one at a time, letting the first one incorporate fully before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and paddle again. Add pumpkin mixture and beat until fully incorporated.
- Pour cheesecake batter into the pan then gently rap the pan on the counter to free any air bubbles. Bake cheesecake until the edges are lightly browned and the center is barely set, about 55 to 65 minutes. Turn oven off and let cake cool in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Place a baking sheet over the cheesecake. Let it cool, removing the baking sheet a few times to wipe off any condensation that may gather on the surface, until the pan is lukewarm to the touch, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the baking sheet and refrigerate the cake until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. To serve, run a thin knife between the cake and the pan then unlock the sides of the pan, slice and serve.