Kabocha Squash Cheesecake with Walnut Crust

2008-01-11

Kabocha Squash Cheesecake with Walnut Crust
 
Recipe from The Sweet Spot by Pichet Ong and Genevieve Ko
Notes: It may be useful to compare this recipe to the version originally featured in the New York Times in November 2004. Instead of steaming the squash, I cut it into chunks, placed it in baking dishes with a little water, covered them in foil, and baked them in a hot oven for about an hour. I let them cool for a while then scooped out the flesh. Cook's Illustrated's technique for pumpkin cheesecake calls for using layers of paper towel to get rid of the excess moisture, but I decided to follow this recipe as written which doesn't even call for draining the kabocha flesh. Everything is done in the food processor which makes the filling simple to do (and smooth too). I ran out of graham crumbs so I pulsed some animal cookies for the crust. 10 minutes at 325° baking time wasn't enough to brown the bottom; 15 is more like it. My only other alterations were using lemon zest and rum instead of lime and brandy. The texture of the cheesecake is like that of pumpkin pie, wet and soft, but it's still dense enough to register as a cheesecake. The pumpkin and spice flavours are quite prominent (as is the colour!), and the walnut crust is a nice match. My decorations are milk chocolate, tempered and spread on a transfer sheet, then cut with a mini cookie cutter.