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Thanksgiving is coming! Let us all take a moment to express gratitude for a holiday that brings people together while encouraging them to completely stuff their faces! The next few weeks I’m focusing on helping you get a complete holiday spread together! First up dessert. Specifically Pumpkin Cheesecake! Why? Because, as my late grandmother used to say, “Eat dessert first, just in case you don’t make it through dinner.” A slightly morbid thought, but hey, she’s right!
I’m also starting with desserts because they are items that can be made ahead of time! Lessening the stress of day-of cooking madness. Though I’d be lying if I said that cooking a full meal all day stressed me out. Seriously, this is my favorite day of the year. I wish there was some way for it to happen more than just once a year, but for the rest of you… I’ll suck it up. Recipe development days are almost as exciting!
So, fall. It’s that time of year where the weather takes a turn for the cold, boots and sweaters return from storage and where pumpkin spice is the flavor of the season.
I’d be lying if I said that THE pumpkin spice latte wasn’t my gateway drug to being basic a pumpkin lover. But with the dairy allergy in full swing, I was left searching for a new flavor application. There’s just one problem.
Yup. That’s right… I’m not a pumpkin pie fan. It’s actually on the very short list of foods I’ve tried once but will never try again. (The list: hominy and pumpkin pie. That’s it.) I just don’t like anything about it. I find the taste boring and the texture less than desirable. There’s just not enough sugar or spice to make this a nice pie for me to want to eat. To be fair, desserts aren’t my favorite in general… I’d much rather have fruit or veggies. But I have to admit there’s another classic dessert I find to be just, blah. Cheesecake! It’s just a blank slate. I think that the addition of fruit, chocolate, or caramel make cheesecake more of a palatable dessert for me. And the graham cracker crust… there’s potential, but it just kind of falls flat.
…Or do they? Hear me out.
Tequila, a fun song but not something that tastes particularly great on its own. (Don’t lie, how many of you reading this have a tequila experience? You know what I mean… and it’s not a good one, is it?) I mean, sucking on a lime and licking salt seems to be the most popular way to get it down “on its own”. And on the other hand, margarita mix. The almost neon green sugar packed, syrupy, sorta lime flavored “drink” is not something you’ll ever reach for to quench your thirst. But, put them together and you’ve got a fun, tasty drink that makes taco Tuesdays and beachside vacations feel more complete!
So, one day I had this crazy idea to combine pumpkin and cheesecake. But in this creation, I wanted a flavor punch! I was sipping on a gingerbread latte when it hit me: save the Graham’s for the flaming mallows and chocolate! Instead, swap in a sweet but spicy gingersnap crust instead!
Gingersnaps are my favorite kind of cookie and I knew that the right kind of gingersnap cookie would create just the crust I was looking for. I grew up spending many a Friday night with my grandparents. And many of those nights were spent splitting a bag of gingersnaps (or peanut m&ms) with my Pop-pop. Until a recent renovation, the brown bag of gingersnaps could always be found in the middle drawer to the right of the oven. The cookies aren’t around as much anymore… but I’ve found their new hiding spot! 🙂
So, not only would the right gingersnaps make for a spicy kick through the rich and decadent filling but they would also enhance the actual pumpkin pie spices that swirl throughout the pumpkin-y cream filling.
So, random/fun fact: There are two foods that I love now that I’m (mostly) vegan: Grilled Cheese and Cheesecake. No joke, I find the flavors of the vegan versions so much more appealing than the regular dairy kind. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I don’t feel like an uncomfortably fat witch with a capital B… Or maybe it’s the actual flavor difference. Either way, I’m not complaining.
So how do you make a cheesecake without dairy and without eggs… Well, I’ve found that the Daiya non-dairy cream cheese is the perfect cheesecake ingredient. It has a much stronger tang to it than regular and other non-dairy cream cheeses. The addition of cornstarch creates a smooth but thick cheesecake filling. And all that you’re left with is the pumpkin spiced tangy cheesecake filling that could rival some New York standbys!
What other desserts do you like to serve at Thanksgiving?
*If you like a flatter cheesecake, use a 13-in springform pan.