Kabocha Cheesecake

What’s sweeter and more flavorful than pie pumpkin?  Kabocha!  As members might recall, over the years Locavorious has roasted and pureed not only pie pumpkins of all sorts of delicious heirloom varieties…we’ve also roasted and pureed butternut and kabocha squash.  Sunshine kabocha is a particular favorite of ours, and also of Tantre Organic Farm. Tantre grows a lot of kabocha, as well as other unique and flavorful hard, winter squashes.  You can substitute any of these hard squash purees into your favorite recipes that call for pumpkin puree. However, here’s a recipe specifically designed for kabocha….the squash that’s as fun to say as it is to eat.

Sunshine Kabocha Cheesecake 

We got this recipe from Tantre, who got it originally from: www.GrowingChefs.org.  Note: Using yogurt cheese instead of cream cheese gives a slightly sour flavor, making the cake more savory than sweet.)   THIS IS A FAVORITE AT TANTRE with the crew!

For the Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cups finely ground ginger cookies (homemade or store bought)
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound cream cheese or yogurt cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pureed winter squash (thawed)

Preheat oven to 350°F, and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Grease 8” pie pan.  In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, finely ground ginger snap cookies, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared spring form pan. Cover and refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling.

In a separate bowl, stir to combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.  With a hand mixer on low speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth (about 2 minutes). Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until creamy and smooth (1 to 2 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla extract and pureed winter squash.

Pour the filling over the chilled ginger crust and place the spring form pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Place a cake pan, filled halfway with hot water, on the bottom shelf of your oven to moisten the air. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 325° F and continue to bake the cheesecake for another 10-20 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake are puffed but the center is still wet and jiggles when you gently shake the pan.  Loosen the cake from the pan by running a sharp knife around the inside edge (this will help prevent the cake from cracking). Then place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan so the cheesecake will cool slowly. When completely cooled, cover and refrigerate at least eight hours, preferably overnight, before serving.
This recipe in an 8″ pan serves 10-12 people.

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