Pumpkin Spice Japanese Cheesecake

HOLY YAYYYYYY. OMG, you'll never believe it but the other day it was actually cooler than 80 °F here in sunshiny LA. And thank goodness for that because after getting beat down in my latest match up for my Fantasy football league, I needed a cool down. I probably earned the loss though. I was in 3rd before last week's devastation and was definitely feeling smug. Whatevs, game six is usually around the time I dig my heels in and wait for everyone else to give up in the league and release all their best guys. I'm in it to win it and a few losses won't bring me down. In other less fanatical news, it's official, fall is here!! Pretty sure fall hasn't technically arrived in my household until pumpkin spice debuts for the year. And, well...it's here!!

Can we talk for a minute about pumpkin spice being associated with #basic (#basicb*tch)? Let's put an end to this because pumpkin spice is awesome and if it's basic, then so am I, and I'd like to think I'm more than basic. In fact, pumpkin spice is anything but basic; it's a blend of three super awesome, exotic spices (hardly basic)!! So, let's put an end to this basic talk, k? And yeah, ok, I understand that if you surveyed the general public, about what they think of when they hear the word pumpkin, pumpkin spice and jack-o-lanterns probably come up on the top. But just cause they're well recognized, doesn't make them basic. Just look at Michael Jackson. Well known but anything but basic. End rant. 

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How's everyone's Halloween planning going? Have you carved your pumpkins yet/did I jump the gun by already carving mine? What are you dressing up as? This year's theme in our house is Star Wars. I'm def gonna be Queen (Amidala), Moses is gonna be a jedi, and little V gets to be Yoda. Fine, we're forcing her to be Yoda. She isn't happy about it. Oh, well. Also, our pumpkin is R2D2. Clearly, we're the all or nothing kind of people. I'm currently pondering doing something I never thought I'd do, which is hopping on Pinterest and making a Halloween treats board. Maybe it's cause I'm feeling extra festive or maybe it's cause I'm 30, but either way, I'm into Halloween this year. Also, I just caught my yearly fall cold, so I feel like I might actually be well on Halloween (instead of sick with a cold but honestly not holding my breath on this one).

Anyway, I got sidetracked, the train was derailed yet again because pumpkin spice and cheesecake and fall should be discussed. Huge thanks to the lovely Sara of Cake Over Steak for pulling together all the pumpkin madness exploding all over the interwebs today. She's gathered up all her favorite blogger friends, and gosh, gf has a lot of friends, for a #virtualpumpkinparty. That's right, today's the day for lots and lots of pumpkin. While I'm on a major savory kick, which definitely shocked Steph, I decided if I'm doing anything pumpkin, it's got to be sweet and it's got to have spices. And since Moses doesn't love your typical NY style cheesecake, I went for something lighter and ended up with a cross between that and a Japanese cheesecake. While this cake follows the general principles of a standard Japanese souffle cheesecake, it is slightly more dense, due to the addition of pumpkin. I'm pretty into it. I feel like it's a very happy medium. Also, I lied, I'm super into it.

You know what else I'm super into? These Roasted Pumpkin and Pork Stuffed Shells, this Pumpkin Goat Cheese Polenta with Brown Butter Thyme Mushrooms and Kale, these Lentil-Stuffed Acorn Squash, Crispy King Oyster Bacon + Aged Goat Cheese, these Pumpkin Pie White Chocolate Brownies, these Pumpkin Ginger Cookies with a Vanilla Glaze, and this Black Sesame Pumpkin Mochi Cake. For a complete roundup of all the bloggers participating in today's #virtualpumpkinparty, head to Cake Over Steak. Happy pumpkining (that's not a word and yes, I just made it up)!!

Pumpkin Spice Japanese Cheesecake

Slightly adapted from Just One Cookbook and Food Network

Makes one 9-inch cake

INGREDIENTS

CAKE

  • 400g (14.1oz) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 6 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes, at room temperature
  • 160g (2/3 c.) pumpkin puree*, at room temperature
  • 58g (4 Tbsp.) heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 60g granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 85g (scant 2/3 c.) cake flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 6 egg whites, cold
  • 100g granulated sugar

CARAMEL TOPPING

  • 235g (1 c.) dark brown sugar
  • 117g (1/2 c.) heavy whipping cream
  • 57g (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt (or two)
  • 50g (1/2 c.) chopped, toasted pecans

TOOLS

  • 9-inch springform pan
  • Large roasting pan
  • Kettle
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Scale
  • Wooden spoon or silicone spatula
  • Stand mixer
  • Medium saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Wire cooling rack

FIX

CAKE

  1. Preheat the oven to 320 °F and start boiling a kettle of water.
  2. Lightly grease your springform pan and line the bottom with a 9-inch parchment round and the sides with a strip of parchment tall enough to reach the top of the pan. Wrap the bottom of the pan tightly with two or three layers of foil. Make sure it's wrapped tight on the bottom lip, to prevent any water seeping in! Take out a roasting pan and check the size, to make sure it's big enough to fit the springform pan.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese and sugar and beat on medium until fluffy and smooth
  4. Add softened butter and beat on medium until well incorporated and smooth.
  5. Add beaten egg yolks, pumpkin puree, and heavy cream and mix on medium-low until combined. Add lemon juice and beat on low until just incorporated.
  6. In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, spices, and salt. Sift again before adding to the cream cheese mixture and mix on low until well incorporated.
  7. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Clean your stand mixer bowl. Make sure it's completely dry and free of any oils.
  8. Whip egg whites with whisk attachment on medium-low until foamy and opaque. Add in sugar, in three parts, while mixer is running. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk until thick, glossy, stiff peaks form. 
  9. Add meringue to cheesecake mixture in 3 batches, fully mixing in the first part then folding in the second and third parts. Be careful not to over-mix.
  10. Pour the batter into springform pan and rap against the counter to remove air bubbles.
  11. Place springform pan into roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan, so that it comes up about 1" up the edge of the springform pan.
  12. Bake at 320 °F for 60 minutes. Reduce temperature to 300 °F and bake for another 40-50 minutes, checking doneness with a toothpick after 30 minutes and every ten minutes after. If your toothpick comes out clean, without any batter, your cake is done. Don't be afraid to cook shorter or longer than specified, as all oven  will vary.
  13. Once your toothpick comes out clean, turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar for about 15 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven and place springform pan onto a wire rack (preferably near a window) to cool.
  15. When cake is completely cooled, remove from pan and transfer to fridge to chill for a few hours to set.

CARAMEL TOPPING

  1. Whisk brown sugar, heavy cream, and butter together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 6 to 7 minutes, until it gets thicker. Add vanilla and sprinkle in a couple pinches of salt and cook for one more minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Drizzle over the top of your chilled cake and top with chopped, toasted pecans.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

Notes: 

*I strongly recommend you use Pacific's Organic Pumpkin Puree. It's slightly thinner than most canned pumpkin purees and worked perfectly in this recipe.

Also, if the top of your cheesecake cracks at any point in time, don't fret. Caramel drizzles cure all.