By Chef Joris Larigaldie
No season is more magical, more expressive than winter. What a glorious time of year! This is a season rich in splendid autumn colours and bathed in tempered rays of sun as days shorten and nights grow longer. But that’s not all…
Whether you like to cook hearty meals, or grow your own vegetables, autumn provides an abundant source of inspiration. Many vegetables, fungi, fruits, and seeds come to harvest, but really only one among them stands as the symbol of the season: pumpkin.
Plump, gorgeous pumpkin – the icon of our winter months and no vegetable fruit! is more deserving of the status. As we feel the post-summer attraction to comfort food, many delicious dishes are prepared from a vast range offered up by the squash family.
So many possible variations to choose from but this recipe is hand selected to celebrate pumpkin. Feel free to experiment with other squashes, because no matter how you slice it, the dish is sure to impress. Cheers!
For the filling
500g cream cheese
200g double cream
400g diced pumpkin flesh
125g white caster sugar
125g brown sugar
3 eggs and 3 yolks
50g plain flour
A pinch of salt
A large pinch of cinnamon and one of nutmeg
For the base
350g digestive biscuits
125g melted butter
TO PREPARE THE BASE, preheat your oven to 190C. Crumble the digestive biscuits with your hand or a blender, and mix in the melted butter. Cover the bottom of your flan dish with your base, pressing down on it with a spoon to about half a centimetre. Cook in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
TO PREPARE THE FILLING, preheat your oven to 220C. Place the pumpkin flesh and the double cream in a pan. Cover, and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until soft. Blend, and set aside to cool. Soften the cream cheese in a bowl with the brown and white sugar, the cinnamon, the nutmeg and the salt. Add the warm but not hot pumpkin puree, the flour, and the eggs. Beat the mix with a whisk to obtain a smooth and homogeneous filling. Pour the filling on your base, filling up the dish almost to the top. Cook for 10 min at 220C then turn the temperature down to 100C for an hour.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool for 10 min, then place in your fridge for at least two hours, preferably overnight, for the best texture. That being said, food is about making you happy, and in that regard, I often cut myself a hot slice before putting the dish in the fridge. Call it impatience, call it the cook’s fee, but it’s a free treat and hard to resist!
Fancy an extra twist? Many ingredients can be changed or added to the recipe. Try crushed walnut in the base, orange zest or even chunks of candied ginger in the filling, and you may be pleased with the changes. I like to add more lush pumpkin flavour by serving it with a pumpkin sauce.
Boil 100g of water with 100g of sugar and 200g of pumpkin flesh. When the flesh is tender, blend it with the cooking liquid to a smooth sauce. Serve it cold or warm.