Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

Magnum White King

A Cheesecake With Something To Prove

posted by in Recipes

A pumpkin cheesecake to erase the tragedy that is the pumpkin pie.

My mind overflows with visions of orange. Pumpkin: pumpkin spice muffins, pumpkin scones, pumpkin crème brulee, and pumpkin praline pie. Unfortunately, visions precipitate desire, and it’s compounded by the color orange which is reputed to stimulate hunger. So off I go in search of canned pumpkin.

Six supermarkets covered in two days leave me empty handed, devoid of that familiar orange container of Libby’s canned pumpkin. I’m convinced that destiny is against me – that or the Thanksgiving crowd has hoarded them all.

So I make my own pumpkin puree – I buy and roast a whole pumpkin ‘til it’s soft, I mash it, and then I take the extra step of pushing it through a strainer to make it extra fine. We’re talking five kilos of mash here. At the end of this mad, self-induced punishment, my arms are sore and I’m orange all over. My Bin takes one look at me and jokes, “Oh well now, orange-you-orange?” (Aren’t you orange?) Smart ass.

But I’ve got my pumpkin and it’s just in time for the Thanksgiving dinner at Pino Kitchen Studio owned by my friend, Chef Ed Bugia. I make a Pecan Crunch Pumpkin Pie to bring, a velvety revelation replete with spices and cream.

I’d like to say it was a success but it turns out to be an inordinate embarrassment for me. Through whatever egregious chemical reaction may have occurred, my pumpkin pie filling has turned green (!), the same green of army fatigues. And mold. Eeew. Needless to say, no one dares touch my pie at the party and I go home with a full plate, my spirit empty.

My pie has been upstaged by a pumpkin cheesecake, an awesomely orange custard baked just ‘til set, chilled, and then garnished with a whiskey-cream glaze. It is – in a word – stupendous, and if the girl who made it wasn’t so nice, I would have loved to hate her.

I’m determined to convince myself that there’s nothing wrong with my homemade pumpkin puree, so I decide to make my own pumpkin cheesecake. Tweaking my cheesecake recipe, I modify the measurements to accommodate the puree and add just enough spice to perfume, not permeate the delicate custard. Set and baked in a water bath for a long, moderate bake, I sit off in a corner, my fingers crossed.

The cheesecake bakes up with a sleek surface and saffron-like in hue, so restrained is its orange color. Once it cools, I let it chill in the refrigerator while I make a brown sugar and Bourbon cream sauce to go with it. It’s a simple harmony of two kinds of cream – light cream and sour cream, brown sugar, and Bourbon, although whiskey is more than acceptable.

I host my own Thanksgiving dinner, where I’ve cooked a 13-pound turkey and made a meal, and I serve the pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. It holds its own, a blushing, brilliant gold beside the maple- pecan pie and the banana pudding. Everyone tries it and while some of them are naturally averse to pumpkin, I’m with the few who adore it. Uninterrupted in smoothness, it’s a symphony of spices opening up to one another and lingering in the back of the throat. It’s a luscious, spicy state to be in as sweetness tiptoes in, titillating, before the lushness of the cream carried by the boldness of Bourbon swaggers in and rounds everything out. Perish that pumpkin pie, I love this pumpkin cheesecake.

13 Responses to “A Cheesecake With Something To Prove”

  • That pumpkin cheesecake looks so creamy and delicious! I wish I could bake something half as good, but I’m afraid my skills lie more on the eating. :-)


    Lori Reply:

    Manila Girl-
    It’s just as important that there are eaters in the world. I’ve always appreciated a good appetite.


  • I love it! Your description of the cheesecake comforts me this morning. I now feel like hiding under the covers on a lazy holiday, even if I CAN’T. Sadly. I am now officially dragging my lazy ass off my bed. Boo.


  • Lori, I’m such a big fan of pumpkin pie…..I ordered two from Sophia’s Restaurant in Westgate, Alabang. They are quite good, very affordable and not too sweet. You can actually eat half the pie in one sitting. Maybe better with cinnamon ice cream on top, actually. Recently, I also saw that the Mandarin Pastry Shop also makes one incredibly appetizing-looking pumpkin pie. Will order it very soon! :) :) Btw, do you know anyone who makes rhubarb pie? And coconut cream pie?


    Lori Reply:

    Hi Tina-
    There aren’t many of us in Manila, I think, who like or will even eat pumpkin pie. It’s nice to find another kindred soul. Didn’t know Sophia’s and Mandarin made pumpkin pie. You’ll have to tell me how the latter tastes. Rhubarb is difficult to find in Manila so I haven’t come across anyone who makes it. As for coconut cream pie, another sweet I love, I make it. I’ve found that most Filipinos eschew coconut because it’s too common.



  • Just tried the spiced pumpkin cheesecake at L’Incontro the other night- now THAT was to die for :)


  • Hi, I found your blog when searching on where to buy baking ingredients in Manila – this is our first “fall” here and being from the US, we’ve been craving pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, etc. – even though it feels nothing like fall! (must be psychological…) Anyway, I began searching for canned pumpkin in October and never found any. I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but people in the US have been hoarding canned pumpkin for the last year due to a shortage caused by crop damaging rains. The shortage is supposed to be over now in the US, but perhaps the process of ordering and importing takes too long for it to have made it by Thanksgiving?


  • damn you pumpkin pie and your ability to rot.. good thing there’s pumpkin cheesecake.. :) awesome.. :D


  • Hi Lori! That is one disarmingly gorgeous Pumpkin Cheesecake if I ever did see one myself.

    Had the same predicament when I was searching for good ole Libby’s Pumpkin in major supermarkets from south to north of the metropolis last November but I got zilch. Was told either there was no shipment or the little they had was swiped off the shelves in no time.

    With regards to your pumpkin pie tragedy, it is quite affirming to know that it happens even to the best of us – the operative phrase being THE BEST OF US, if you get my drift.

    If kitchen disasters can happen to dessert meister Lori, then the rest of us need not fret. And I meant that as a compliment. :-)


    Lori Reply:

    You say such nice things! “…disarmingly gorgeous…” I swoon at the description. Yes, I really was quite desperate for pumpkin last November.


  • Hoping you can send me the recipe or this one. This really i want to try. Pleaase. Thanks


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