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Four dishes, four ways to present the charm of cheese

Savory recipes are always a go-to with cheeses, but around here we love sweet too. In her new cookbook, Southern Sugar, Belinda Smith-Sullivan features a variety of delectable cheesecakes, including this recipe using sweet cushaw squash. If you can’t find this crookneck squash, then butternut squash, pumpkin or white sweet potatoes are suitable substitutes.

Belinda Smith-Sullivan

Katie Blohm

Sweet Cushaw and Pecan Cheesecake

1 3/4 cups gingersnap crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

3 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each), room temperature
2 cups cooked and puréed cushaw squash
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, blend crumbs, sugar, butter and pecans and press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the bottom and outside of the pan with foil.

2. Filling: Using a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and squash until fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar, then add eggs one at a time. Add sour cream and heavy cream and continue to beat. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla and beat until smooth. Fold in pecans and pour filling into prepared pan.

3. Place cheesecake pan in another larger pan and place in preheated oven. Fill the larger pan halfway with hot water. Bake 60–70 minutes or until slightly firm in the center. Turn off oven, leaving door ajar about 8 inches, and allow cheesecake to cool in oven 1 hour. Remove pans from oven, remove cheesecake pan from water bath and cool completely in pan.

4. Topping: In a small, heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in cream and pecans. Let cool slightly. Pour warm topping over cooled cheesecake in pan and refrigerate. When ready to serve, remove the sides of springform pan and place cheesecake on a serving dish.

Serves 12.

Reprinted with permission from Southern Sugar by Belinda Smith-Sullivan (Gibbs Smith, 2021).

October 2021 Recipe Contest