My brother loves pumpkin pie but I never completely fell in love with it. Something about the texture, I think. And the fact that if I wanted to eat a pie that tastes like pumpkin, why didn't I just roast some dang pumpkin? Cheesecake, though. I can do pumpkin cheesecake. One of my favorite things to do is experiment with different flavors of cheesecake until I get the right combo for the filling - I hate using only cream cheese because it is so one-dimensional and fattening. Switch to the 1/3 fat kind, add a few spoons of ricotta instead, and a dollop of sour cream and you've got an amazing concoction that will make people wonder how come there own versions are so bland.
Another way to take your dessert over the top is to find the right crust. I actually thought of this when I was about 15, so wayyy before Williams Sonoma suggested it in their 2007 Thanksgiving cookbook. For instance, if you're making a pumpkin cheesecake, forgo the traditional graham cracker and try a gingersnap version. Use shortbread cookies and spice them with the same ingredients you use in the recipe - lemon zest, orange peel, or sugared ginger, maybe?
And finally, you eat with your eyes first - so find creative yet simple ways to decorate the top (and sides) of your cheesecake. One of my personal favorites is to take pine branches, strip the tops slightly, and then arrange them around and under your cheesecakes during the winter holidays. It smells wonderful and looks even better. Just remember to wash them first. Caramelized limes are pretty on a key lime cheesecake (see a previous post), and dollops of whipped cream with a little cinnamon over the top are nice for any light-colored cheesecake, like this pumpkin one:
Yep, pumpkin is the new look for fall, so whether it's a cake, a bread, a pie, or a cheesecake, whip out those recipes, kids and embrace the craze!