Monday, September 22, 2014

Guest Post: Balancing the Fall

We are so excited about the response we're getting from our readers, who are inspired to cook and bake for their families. Tonight we are giving the BCC a break, and bringing to you a very special guest post from our very own Amanda Chandler, who is truly a gifted cook and writer!

I'm sitting on my deck watching a gorgeous Ohio fall sunset. Ahhhhh, fall...I love rekindling our love affair each year!

I've been thinking the last few days how much I love fall, especially since I now live in Ohio and the first day of fall actually feels like fall...unlike Memphis's fall which actually starts 3 days before winter. But like so many other areas of life, I find balance hard during this time of the year too. I want to stuff my face full of all things pumpkin and bread and creamy soups and cheesy casseroles....but I dislike having to "stuff" myself in my clothes the following days. I want to work in the yard and be active outside, soaking up every minute of the nearly perfect weather, but I also want to snuggle down with a book and ignore any prodding to be productive. Although I haven't considered it until now, I feel like 'balance' (specifically finding it) has been a strong theme in my life this year. Balancing grief and regret with grace and forgiveness. Balancing stress and frustration with peace and trust. Balancing chaos with contentment. It has been a year full of letting go and trusting God's promises to bring things "greater than I could have ever imagined" (thanks Dad!). And as always, God's promises are true and sound.

Speaking of balance, and the real reason for this blog...PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE. Talk about balance! Ginger snap crust. Creamy filling with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin. A surprise sour cream topping that is the perfect collaboration of cool and sweet. Seriously, it is the very picture of fall...and balance.

So go ahead and experience balance: make this scrumptious treat with someone you love, read a book while it bakes, eat a piece or two....and then stop so that you can fit into your clothes later. But whether or not you make this cheesecake, learn to enjoy life. All of it. And thank God...because there's bound to be an endless supply of fall and cheesecake in Heaven.

Pumpkin Cheesecake (Joy of Cooking cookbook, page 983):

For the crust: Sorry I don't really have a recipe. I combine ginger snaps, graham crackers, about 1/4 cup melted butter and a couple tbsp of sugar in food processor.

For the cheesecake: It is essential that you use a springform pan. I think mine is a 10 inch but you could use one slightly smaller or larger and it would be fine.

Also, fill a small pan (I use a loaf pan) with water and put in the oven the entire time. This keeps moisture in the air and helps prevent cracking. This is also a must.

2/3 cup brown sugar ( my fav is dark, but you can definitely use light)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

In large bowl, beat until smooth:
1 lb cream cheese (do not use low fat...this is cheesecake for crying out loud!)

Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until smooth, scrapping the sides of the bowl often, about 2 minutes.

Beat in 1 at a time until well blended:
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs

Add and beat just until mixed:
1 cup pumpkin purée

Scrape into crust and smooth the top. Set the pan on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 min @ 350 degrees, reduce temp to 325 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until edges are puffed but the center still jiggles when pan is tapped.

Meanwhile, whisk together:1 cup sour cream 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Pour on top of hot cake and tilt pan to spread evenly. Return to oven for 7 minutes. Place pan on rack and cover pan with large inverted bowl or pot to cool the cake slowly. Let cool completely before unmolding. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably 24 hours. (So apparently this is about balance and endurance- sheesh! But truly just like my husband's worth the wait! Ha!) Enjoy!

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