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Contest sponsored by the Texas Pecan Board

Kay Batchelder, who lives in Lakewood Village with husband David, daughter Bryce and son Ford, says she experimented with several variations of her cheesecake recipe before hitting on the winning blend.

Ford, 11, and his friends became part of the development process, testing several versions of the recipe. “They would come over every afternoon, asking when I was making another,” she laughed.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake with Tipsy Pecan Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies (ground graham crackers can be substituted)
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
1/4 plus 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups of canned solid pack pumpkin
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup, plus 5 tablespoons whipping cream, divided
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
Tipsy Pecan Caramel Sauce

Place cookies, pecans, 1/4 cup brown sugar and ginger in processer and pulse until finely ground. Add melted butter and crystallized ginger and blend until well combined. Press crust mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch diameter springform pan with 23/4-inch-high sides.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Put about 3/4 of a cup of mixture in small bowl, cover and refrigerate. Pat pumpkin with paper towels to remove moisture, then add to cream cheese mixture with flour, 1/3 cup of whipping cream, spices, salt and vanilla to cream cheese mixture and mix until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined. Pour filling into crust.

Place a large sheet cake pan on lower rack of oven and fill halfway with water (this will help prevent cheesecake from cracking). Place cheesecake on center rack of oven and bake about 90 minutes, or until cheesecake puffs, top browns and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken. (If top begins to brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil.) Turn off oven and allow cheesecake to sit in oven with door propped open for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

One hour before serving, take reserved cream cheese mixture out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Add 5 tablespoons of whipping cream and stir to combine. Carefully spread over the top of the cheesecake. Drizzle Tipsy Pecan Caramel Sauce over cake and swirl caramel into cream cheese mixture. Run knife around cheesecake to loosen and remove pan sides. Serve with extra sauce on side.

Servings: 16 (without sauce). Serving size: 1 slice. Per serving: 534 calories, 8.7 g protein, 33.3 g fat, 49 g carbohydrates, 2.4 g dietary fiber, 372 mg sodium, 31.2 g sugars, 129 mg cholesterol

Tipsy Pecan Caramel Sauce

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 pound pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup bourbon

Melt butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add heavy cream and brown sugar. Bring to boil, whisking constantly. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often. Stir in pecans and bourbon and cook another 2 minutes. Let cool. Caramel will thicken upon standing.

Servings: 24. Serving size: 2 tablespoons. Per serving: 259 calories, 2.1 g protein, 20.4 g fat, 16.3 g carbohydrates, 1.8 g dietary fiber, 8 mg sodium, 14.1 g sugars, 23 mg cholesterol

Kay Batchelder, CoServ Electric