Sunday, December 30, 2012

Spiced pecan pie cheesecake with GF graham cracker crust

So, this recipe is actually three different recipes that I integrated together.  Since I've been so heavily focused on my dissertation for the past few months, I haven't baked anything in quite awhile, so I was excited to give it a try and make this dessert for Christmas dinner with friends.  

Finding the gluten-free graham crackers was a Christmas miracle.  I tried to find them in the gluten-free section of the usual grocery store on Christmas eve; not only was the store was a complete madhouse, but I couldn't find any GF graham crackers or even ginger snaps there.  So, I rushed over to the health food store and arrived at 3:55 pm.  They were closing early and the sign said that they'd be open until 4 pm, but the door was already locked.  Lucky for me, one of the employees was sitting in her car getting ready to depart.  She asked me what I needed, knocked on the door until they opened back up, and asked if they had counted the till yet.  Since they were just getting ready to count the till, they let me in and sold me a box of GF graham crackers.

On Christmas Day, my friend Emily hosted a fantastic celebration Goldstream-style with lots of delicious food, libations, and a full night of games!

It was a bit of a gamble to bring this to Emily's since I had never tried to make it before, but it turned out pretty darn good.  It is incredibly rich and can really use a bit of coffee to go with it...

Spiced pecan pie cheesecake with GF graham cracker crust


1 1/2 c gluten-free graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c sugar
6 tbsp butter

cheesecake filling
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
pecan pie topping
2 cups pecans 
2 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg  



Cut the butter into small piece and melt.  Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs.  I usually stick them in a plastic bag and crush them with the back of a cup.  Mix together the butter, graham cracker crumbs, and sugar.

Press the crust into the bottom of a springform pan and bake at 375° F for 7 minutes.  Since I always seems to have butter melting out of the bottom of my springform pan and dripping down on the oven's heating element (perhaps a consequence of picking it up at a garage scale years ago), I always place it on a cookie tray covered in aluminum foil when I stick it in the oven. Then to cool the crust down after it comes out of the oven, I stuck it outside on top of the snow... 

cheesecake filling

Blend together the cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth.

Pour on top of the graham cracker crust,

and spread the cheesecake filling evenly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350° F and bake for 15 minutes.

pecan pie topping

Whisk together the 2 eggs and sugar.

Mix together the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

Mix in the light corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla extract, salt, and spices.

Whisk until well blended and smooth.

If the pecans are not already toasted, spread them in a pan (I like to use parchment paper to line the pan) and bake at 350° F for 5-8 minutes.  Watch them carefully so they don't burn!

Spread the toasted pecans over the cooked cream cheese filling layer, and then drizzle the spice mixture over the pecans.  Bake 350° F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center sets.

Cool before serving!

Southwest Corn Chowder

Sometimes I meet really neat people and I think to myself... "Wow, I totally want to be friends with them."  Such was the case when I met Jessica and Bryan. 

And since I wanted to hang out with them and I had been hungry for this corn chowder for awhile, I invited them over for dinner... They gladly obliged and brought the wine.

With this recipe, I used the oregano-infused olive oil that I made with the oregano from my garden this summer.  Basically, I just filled a glass jar with fresh oregano and crush garlic cloves, filled it with olive oil, and then patiently let the flavors meld.

Southwest Corn Chowder

olive oil
4-6 cloves of garlic
1 onion
2 cans of corn
1 New Mexico green chili pepper
1 Poblano pepper
~3 cups water or (vegetable or chicken stock)
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
2-3 small potatoes
1/2 of a red and orange bell pepper, each
1 tbsp lime juice
2 c heavy cream (or half & half)
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh cilantro (for garnish)
plain yogurt or sour cream (for garnish)

Chop the onion and garlic.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot.  Add the garlic, onion and 1 1/2 cans of corn (set aside the last bit of corn to be added later).

Cook until the onions become translucent.

Remove the seeds and chop the New Mexican green chili and Poblano peppers.

Add the chopped peppers, oregano, and cumin to the pot.

Add enough water (or vegetable or chicken broth) to cover the mixture, approximately 3 cups or so. Simmer for 20 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, dice the small potatoes and bell peppers, seeds removed.  In a separate pot, bring some water to a boil and boil the diced potatoes for 2 minutes.

Add the diced bell peppers and boil for an additional 2 minutes. Then, drain the water off the potatoes and peppers.

Using a hand blender (or regular blender), purée the soup.

Stir in the lime juice.

Stir in the heavy cream (or half & half).

Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Add in the remaining corn, potatoes, and bell peppers.

Serve with cilantro and plain yogurt (or sour cream).