Here’s some cheese­cake that can be served hot

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Sara Moul­ton ED­I­TOR’S NOTE: Sara Moul­ton is host of pub­lic tele­vi­sion’s “Sara’s Week­night Meals.” She was ex­ec­u­tive chef at Gourmet mag­a­zine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade host­ing sev­eral Food Net­work shows, in­clud­ing “Cooking Live.” Her lates

Cheese­cake is usu­ally served cold. So brace your­self for some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.

The first time I made this recipe, I pulled it out of the oven and set it on the counter to cool. The plan was to chill it overnight in the re­frig­er­a­tor. But my dear daugh­ter — also known as The Girl with the Sweet Tooth — just couldn’t wait to dig in. So I handed her a spoon. And when she started bab­bling with de­light, I tried it, too.

Bo­ing! It was ridicu­lously good. So good that I now rec­om­mend that you serve this cheese­cake hot, right out of the oven, topped with a lit­tle vanilla ice cream or sweet­ened whipped cream.

That said, get­ting there re­quires some care. Be sure to buy plain pump­kin puree, which is some­times la­beled solid pack pump­kin. Avoid any­thing la­beled “pump­kin pie filling” or “pump­kin pie mix,” both of which con­tain un­wanted sugar and spices. You’re much bet­ter off ad­ding those ingredients your­self.

Also, don’t for­get to drain the pump­kin puree. Los­ing the ex­cess liq­uid from the puree im­proves the fi­nal tex­ture and fla­vor of the cake.

The cooking also re­quires some care. You’re go­ing to cook the cake in a water bath, which helps to equal­ize the tem­per­a­ture in the oven and pre­vents over­cook­ing. But first the spring­form pan must be tightly wrapped with foil to pre­vent any water from leak­ing into the bat­ter while the cake is bak­ing.

Fi­nally, do your best to not over­bake the cake, which will make it dry and crumbly. Af­ter the al­lot­ted cooking time, it should still be a lit­tle jig­gly. Wor­ried that the cake might be un­der­cooked at that point? Don’t be. The resid­ual heat will con­tinue to cook it even af­ter you pull it out of the oven.

By the way, this cheese­cake also is a knock­out when it’s served the usual way — cold. If you de­cide to go this route, run a knife around the out­side edge of the cake to sep­a­rate it from the pan as soon as you re­move the cake from the oven. This will al­low the cake to re­main in­tact as it shrinks in on it­self, rather than crack­ing down the mid­dle as it vainly at­tempts to unglue it­self from the sides of the pan.

If you do in­deed de­cide to serve this cold, let it cool com­pletely on a rack on the counter — it’ll take three to four hours — be­fore wrap­ping it tightly and pop­ping it in the re­frig­er­a­tor to chill overnight. When it’s time, run a knife around the edge of the pan again, care­fully re­move the side of the pan, then slice the cheese­cake with a knife dipped in hot water (or use un­fla­vored den­tal floss). And don’t for­get the crown­ing glory. As noted, whipped cream or ice cream are the ac­ces­sories of choice.

Warm pump­kin-bourbon cheese­cake

Start to fin­ish: 2 hours (45 min­utes ac­tive) Servings: 16 For the crust: 6 ta­ble­spoons un­salted but­ter, melted, plus ex­tra for the pan 1 1⁄4 cups gin­ger­snap cookie crumbs (made by puls­ing about 25 cook­ies in a food pro­ces­sor un­til finely ground) This file photo shows warm pump­kin bourbon cheese­cake in Concord, N.H. This dessert is from a recipe by Sara Moul­ton. 1⁄4 cup packed dark brown sugar 1⁄4 tea­spoon ta­ble salt For the filling: 15-ounce can pump­kin puree 3 large eggs 1⁄2 cup packed dark brown sugar 2 ta­ble­spoons heavy cream 1 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract 1⁄4 cup bourbon, dark rum or co­gnac 1⁄2 cup gran­u­lated sugar 1 ta­ble­spoon corn­starch 1 1⁄2 tea­spoons cin­na­mon 1⁄4 tea­spoon nut­meg 1⁄2 tea­spoon ground dry gin­ger 1⁄2 tea­spoon ground all­spice 1⁄2 tea­spoon ta­ble salt Three 8-ounce pack­ages 1⁄3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufcha­tel), room tem­per­a­ture Vanilla ice cream or lightly sweet­ened whipped cream, to serve

Heat the oven to 375 F. Brush the in­side of a 9-inch spring­form pan with melted but­ter.

To make the crust, in a medium bowl, stir to­gether the 6 ta­ble­spoons of but­ter, the gin­ger­snap crumbs, brown sugar and salt un­til com­bined well. Pour the crumb mix­ture into the pan and press it evenly over the bot­tom of the pan. Bake on the oven’s mid­dle shelf for 10 min­utes. Trans­fer to a cake rack and cool for 30 min­utes. Re­duce the oven to 350 F. Line a mesh colan­der with a clean kitchen towel. Mound the pump­kin puree into the towel and set over a medium bowl. Bring the ends of the towel up and gen­tly squeeze to re­move ex­cess water (you should be able to squeeze out about ¼ cup of liq­uid). Dis­card the liq­uid. Rinse and dry the bowl, then in it mix to­gether the pump­kin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla and bourbon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir to­gether the gran­u­lated sugar, corn­starch, cin­na­mon, nut­meg, gin­ger, all­spice and salt. Add the cream cheese, then use an elec­tric mixer on high to beat un­til smooth, about 3 min­utes. Add the pump­kin mix­ture to the cream cheese mix­ture and beat on low, just un­til com­bined.

Bring a large ket­tle of water to a boil.

Use foil to wrap the bot­tom and sides of the spring­form pan. Pour the filling into the pan. Fold a kitchen towel so it fits evenly in a roast­ing pan just a bit larger

than the spring­form pan. Set the spring­form pan on top of the towel in the roast­ing pan. Work­ing quickly, pour enough boil­ing water into the larger pan to come half­way up the sides of the spring­form pan. Bake the cheese­cake for 65 to 70 min­utes, or un­til it is mostly set but still slightly jig­gly at the cen­ter.

Spoon some of the cheese­cake onto each serv­ing plate and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a spoon­ful of whipped cream.

Al­ter­na­tively, if serv­ing the cheese­cake cold, trans­fer it to a rack, run a sharp knife around the edge and let it cool com­pletely, about 4 hours, be­fore cov­er­ing with plas­tic wrap. Chill. To serve, cut into slices and top each slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a spoon­ful of whipped cream.

Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 290 calo­ries; 150 calo­ries from fat (52 per­cent of to­tal calo­ries); 17 g fat (9 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 85 mg choles­terol; 320 mg sodium; 26 g car­bo­hy­drate; 1 g fiber; 20 g sugar; 6 g pro­tein.

MATTHEW MEAD — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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