October 18, 2008

Cheese + Butternut Squash = Deliciousness

Up until very recently I had considered all squash as a savory food.  In my mind, pumpkin and squash are two very different things!  Squash is such a great fall food.  It's abundant, inexpensive, and pretty darn good.  Don't tell my Mom I just said that!  Growing up I used to abhor squash.  I'd avoid it, I wouldn't eat it, I'd complain.  I suspect Mom still thinks that squash and I are the best of enemies.  That being said, I'm reformed!

See, a few weeks ago, I was poking around on various food sites, looking for a delicious sounding, yet fairly simple pumpkin pie recipe, when somehow I stumbled upon this recipe for Butternut Squash Pie.  It was just different enough, and simple enough that I simply HAD to try it.  I made two changes, one intentional, the other, not so intentional.  We'll talk about the one that leads to the actual reason behind this post!  

For some reason I thought that I needed to use the whole cooked squash.  And thought I was cheating when I gave up after scooping out around 4-5 cups.  Everything else was the same amount as in the recipe, but that doubling of squash, resulted in a bunch of left over filling.  And it was such a good filling, I needed to find a use for it.  Hence the cheese.

Butternut Squash Cheesecake

For the crust: 

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, made into a paste * I used my little coffee grinder for this
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup pecan meal
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 cup melted butter

Combine all ingredients and press into a spring form pan.

For the Filling:

275 g Marscapone cheese
275 g Ricotta cheese, press out water
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
2 eggs
2 cups butternut squash mixture (use the one from Canadian Living, or make the mistake I did, and get both a pie and cheesecake from the deal!)
1/4 cup almond meal

Cream together both cheese and sugar.  When fluffy, beat in eggs, one at a time.

Fold in butternut squash mixture and almond meal.  Taste to see if needs any more spices and add as necessary.

Gently pour over top of pecan crust and smooth.  Bake in middle of oven preheated to 350 F for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Allow this cheesecake to cool fully before eating.  As tempting as it is to dig in right away, the texture improves as it cools.  

Serve, preferably with some fresh whipped cream, or even a maple syrup reduction.

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