Friday, October 26, 2012

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake and Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Fall is here. Glorious fall. With cooler temps, all things pumpkin, and endless excuses to make homey, spicy baked goods. Also, caramel.

First up: cheesecake. This one was ridiculously easy. Ridiculously. Easy. I used this recipe (except I used the graham cracker crust from this recipe) and loved the method. A friend who is famous for her cheesecakes told me years ago that I should never use a mixer for cheesecakes, they should only be mixed by hand. All that beating air into the mixture takes away the density that a cheesecake should have. I tried that method exactly 1/2 of a time. Too much hard work. Vanilla sugar recommends putting all the ingredients through a food processor. Perfect. It doesn't whip too much air into the mixture, so you still get the dense texture you want, but with none of the work! Everything mixed together smoothly and beautifully. Then I blobbed some of this caramel (which, incidentally works exactly as it says on the blog, pure magic--it's a very milky caramel, more like a dulce de leche, and DElicious) around on top of the cheesecake (saved some to heat up and drizzle over when serving), sprinkled a sprinkling of sea salt here and there,

and swirled it all together with a chopstick. Look how pretty!

And when it baked, it didn't sink and blend in, it stayed right in the top layer of the cheesecake.

I got nervous about it's doneness, so I cooked it a little longer than the recipe suggests. I shouldn't have. The 10" size could have done with just 50 minutes plus an hour or so sitting in the oven after turning it off. Not that it wasn't still delicious, it certainly was--creamy, dense, tangy, sweet, caramely. I just could tell I cooked it a teensy bit too long.

Next up: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Also ridiculously easy. I know you don't believe me when I say that about cinnamon rolls. They SEEM labor intensive, they ARE NOT. There are several steps and some waiting involved, so when you first attempt them, use the rise-then-hang-out-in-the-fridge-overnight method. It will save you starving children and a lot of grief in the morning.

I used smitten kitchen's alterations of the BAKED boys recipe from their new book. Having not tried the original, I guess I can't say which is better, but these were delicious and came together really easily. I forgot that once you've (or I've) had Cinnabon frosting there's really no going back, and I should have just made that frosting for them. The frosting in the recipe is delicious, it's just...not Cinnabon frosting.

One other alteration I would make (will make, probably for Thanksgiving morning) is replacing some of the cinnamon in the filling with pumpkin pie spice. The pumpkin itself wasn't very strong tasting, and I want to taste it! I think pumpkin pie spice will punch up that flavor. And, another thing, I might add some toasted and chopped pecans to the filling. I always forget how much I like to have nuts in my cinnamon rolls. Remind me!

TGIP Rating--Caramel Swirl Cheesecake--KEEPER. Mind the baking time.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls--KEEPER. A couple of alterations and they'll be perfect.

Next up: Harvest Pie. My friend Mike Bottoms (who is about to be a famous published author) sent me this recipe ages ago and I lost track of it. Found it again and now is the perfect time. It's like pumpkin pie except with butternut squash. And a sort of pecan streusel on top. *drool*

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