Monday, November 29, 2010

Grateful for Maple Cheesecake

You know, Thanksgiving really outdid itself this year.

I'm still nursing a pie hangover from the weekend and feeling a bit stuffed even now from the delicious selections of turkey and pork, potatoes and yams, green beans and broccoli, in all their variations and beauties. Quite seriously speaking, I am feeling less than good today and I'd like to blame it on the fact that my arteries were significantly clogged over the holiday due to major pie and cake, gravy and meat consumption. Either way, it was worth it.

Every part of the Thanksgiving meal, generally speaking now, is absolutely fabulous; each dish, whether it's old or new, freshly introduced or sappy sentimental, there is always some part of the table spread worth marveling over. And even beyond the food that is so carefully prepped and pined over for days in advance, are the great traditions surrounding the holiday: a football game, a pre-Thanksgiving activity, expressing gratitude, making predictions for the next year (a staple tradition on my side of the family), getting all dressed up just to stuff your tummy full, going to a movie after the meal, quizzing each other on Thanksgiving origination trivia, and etc etc.

Thanksgiving, in other words, was just awesome, really and truly. Though I must confess my mind is struggling to grasp how it's already over? Anyone else? I guess in so many ways I still feel like we should be outside in shorts allowing popsicle juice to run down our cheeks while sprinklers glisten the green grass and my toddler is covered in dirt and joy.

But since the "most wonderful time of the year"is here at our feet, I'll take it and enjoy the next month with deep pleasure!!!

Here is but one of the many recipes from Turkey day I am still dreaming about. This maple cheesecake pie is a keeper in my household from all autumns out. OMH (Mormon-friend
ly acronym) it is deathly good and a stunning smash.

Roasted Pear and Maple Cheesecake
{Everyday Food November 2010}

1 vanilla-wafer crust (recipe below)

2 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup pure maple syrup ( I used more than this, especially for the pears)

1 cup cold heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar ( I added 3 Tbsp)

1 tsp maple extract (optional)

Nonstick cooking spray

2 medium pears (Bosc work great), sliced at 1/8 " thin (use a very sharp knife)

Make pie crust according to directions below- bake and allow to cool before you pour the filling in.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup maple syrup; beat until smooth. In a medium bowl, beat cream and sugar on high until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, stir about one-third the whipped cream into cream cheese mixture, then fold in remainder. Transfer to crust and refrigerate until firm, 3 hours (or up to 1 day).

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange pear slices in a single layer on sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Roast until pears are soft, 20 minutes. Remove from oven and heat broiler. Brush pears with 2 tablespoons maple syrup and broil until browned in spots, about 4 minutes, rotating sheet frequently (Kate note: be very vigilant in not allowing the pears to burn- my broiler was hyper and about did my pears in, so, heads up!)

Let cool. To serve, arrange pear slices, overlapping slightly, on cheesecake.

Vanilla-Wafer Crust

6 ounces vanilla-wafer cookies ( about 46 cookies)

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse cookies until finely ground (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Add sugar, salt, and butter and pulse until combined.

Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate. (If using a springform pan, press crumbs halfway up sides.) Bake until crust is dry and set, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely in plate on a wire rack before filling

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