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Spago Pumpkin Cheesecake

By Todd Wilbur


Score: 4.00. Votes: 2
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  • $0.79
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Menu Description: "Gingerbread crispy crust, cranberry compote, spiced anglaise."

Every year it's the same dessert at the thanksgiving table: a triangular portion of pumpkin pie with a giant dollop of Cool Whip piled up on top. Sure, it's tasty and traditional, but maybe you want to step it up this year? I've got just the thing. Spago makes a semi-deconstructed pumpkin cheesecake in the fall that is the perfect upscale clone for your homemade holiday dessert. All four components are made separately, then when it's dessert time, you pipe the filing onto the crispy gingerbread crusts with a pastry bag (or you can just spoon it on), pile on the garnish, and serve it up with a smile. You make everything the day before, or on the morning of your celebration, and then you build each plate just before serving. If you want an extra garnish for your plates as in the restaurant, grab some vanilla sauce at the store, or follow the quickie recipe found below in "Tidbits."

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Cranberry Compote
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Gran Marnier
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Spiced Anglaise
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Gingerbread Crispy Crust
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • Do This
    • Restaurant/Brand
      Spago
    • Instructions

      1. Make the pumpkin cheesecake filling by combining all ingredients in a large bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Spoon the contents into a large saucepan and set over medium/low heat, stirring often. When the mixture begins to bubble—in about 10 minutes—turn off the heat and let it cool down. When the filling is cool, cover and refrigerate it.

      2. Make the cranberry compote by combining all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until the compote begins to thicken. Turn off heat and allow the compote to cool off before covering it up and popping it in the refrigerator.

      3. For the spiced anglaise, first beat the egg yolks and sugar together for a minute or until mixture becomes a lighter shade of yellow. Combine the sweetened yolks with cream, salt, and spices in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat. Stir often as mixture heats up until you see steam coming off it—this should take about 10 minutes. You don't need it to come to a boil. Remove the mixture from the heat, then cover it up and put it in the refrigerator with the other stuff.

      4. Now you are ready to make the last component of the cheesecake: the gingerbread crust. First, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Next, combine the melted butter with brown sugar, molasses, spices, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs with the flour. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with an electric mixer, and press crust into a 17x12-inch baking sheet. Use your fingers to press down on the surface of the crust so that it is an even thickness, from edge to edge. Bake the crust for 20 to 22 minutes or until just it begins to turn darker brown around the edges. Remove crust from the oven and cool for a couple minutes, then use a large knife, the flat edge of a metal scraper or a pizza wheel to cut away 1/2 inch from around the edges. This edge scrap gets tossed. Now cut lengthwise down the middle, and then cut each of those large portions into 1 1/2-inch wide slices. You will have approximately 20 crusts (5 1/4x1 1/2). Set these aside to cool, until you are ready to assemble your cheesecakes.

      5. Build each serving by placing a crust onto a serving plate. Use a pastry bag to pipe two rows of five dollops of pumpkin cheesecake filling onto bottom crust. Place another crust on top of the filling, slightly offset. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of cranberry compote onto one end of the top crust. Use an electric mixer to whip the anglaise until it forms stiff peaks. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of whipped anglaise onto the other end of the top crust.    

      Yields 10 servings.
       
      Tidbit: Before serving you can apply an additional garnish of a strip of vanilla sauce onto the plate. Pre-made vanilla sauces packaged in squirt bottles can be found in most markets. You can also make your own by bringing a mixture of 2 cups of heavy cream, 4 beaten egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 of a split vanilla bean to a simmer over medium/low heat, stirring often (10 to 15 minutes). Strain and chill, then use a squirt bottle or spoon to apply a strip of the cooled sauce to the plate before assembling your cheesecake.

Reviews
Average rating:

Score: 4.00. Votes: 2
Rating of votes (2)
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Anonymous
Nov 27, 2007, 22:00

The dessert itself tastes very good, but it is not easy to eat. The crust is too hard and can't be cut with a fork once it's assembled. We ended up dipping the crust into the filling instead.

DC
Nov 24, 2007, 22:00

This was WONDERFUL!! Not having true gourmet tastes, we made just the filling and crust, and topped with canned whipped cream. It was the BEST of the Thanksgiving desserts. A little messy when you go to eat it, but don't know any way around that.

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