Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fall Get Together

This weekend I had friends over for a small Fall Get Together. It was an impromptu gathering – I sent out invitations on Tuesday. It seems that I always enjoy more “last-minute parties” because nobody has huge expectations. I had a great time. I wish I could make it a monthly gathering. Maybe I will come up with this idea the next time we get together. A themed monthly gathering would be so much fun.

I made little Cheese Quiches, Spinach in Phyllo Dough Cups, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, and Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake. We also had bread and cheese platters. The Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake was baked with the Mini Cheesecake Pan from Williams-Sonoma. It has a removable base that makes things much easier.
I took the cheesecake out of the oven before cooling and the top cracked a little. Also, the creamcheese must be soft to avoid overmixing the filling.

Mini Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake

For the crust:
20 chocolate wafer cookies
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For The Filling:
2 packages (8 ounces each) bar cream cheese, very soft
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons pumpkin-pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temperature

4 ounces semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350°, with rack in center. Brush the pan with melted butter or cooking spray.

Make the crust: To make the crumbs for the crust, pulse the cookies in a food processor until finely ground. In a medium bowl, mix cookie crumbs, sugar, and butter until moistened; press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake until fragant, 8 to 10 minutes.

Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth; mix in flour (do not overmix). Add pumpkin purée, pie spice, vanilla, and salt; mix just until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.

Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl; microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each, until melted. Add 1 cup pumpkin mixture. Set aside

Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into prepared pan. Drop dollops of chocolate mixture; swirl slightly. Reduce oven heat to 300°. Bake 20 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening).
Remove from oven; cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Unmold before serving.

Note: My cheesecake cracked a little, please learn from my mistakes: To prevent the top from cracking, be careful not to overmix the batter, and do not open the oven door while the cake is baking or cooling inside the oven.


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