Tuesday 9 September 2014

Recipe - Pumpkin Cheesecake

Here in Australia Halloween is nowhere near as big-of-a-deal as it is in other parts of the world, though it does seem to be becoming more of a "thing" each year.  And pumpkin-pie is almost unheard of here ... at least in the way I've seen it in American movies and recipes.  

Anyway, pumpkin and halloween-themed posts are really heating up in blog-land at the moment.  Have you seen them?  And the other day when I was perusing my Facebook feed, the most delicious-looking link popped up for a Pumpkin Cheesecake.  I was hooked with one glance at the cheese-cakey goodness.  We love cheesecake.  But I was a little deflated when I realised it was a recipe with lots of ingredients I'd either never heard of, or just simply aren't available in my local supermarket.  Things like "cool-whip" and "pumpkin-pie spices", and "canned pumpkin".  Yep, we don't have those.  But the thought of pumpkin cheese-cake, and the fact that our last pumpkin from our bumper pumpkin crop was sitting patiently on my counter just waiting to be turned into one got the better of me, and I decided to give it a go.

So, here's my very Aussie, very non-authentic version of a pumpkin cheesecake.  It's SUPER yummy, and we've made it twice already (to share of course).  Oh and pumpkin coupled with ginger ... yummo!  Don't believe me? You'll just have to give it a go yourself!

Ingredients: (Makes 12 individual serves)

- 1 packet Gingernut biscuits (use 3/4 of the pack for the base, and the rest for the crunchy topping)
- 50g butter
- 2 teaspoons Mixed Spice
- 12 individual serving cups ... we used plastic champagne flutes because we were transporting these to a family lunch, but a glass tumbler would be cute too.

- 2 Packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 250g pureed pumpkin
- 2 teaspoons Mixed Spice
- 1 Tablespoon Powdered Gelatin
- 1/2 cup boiling water


For the base ...

1. If you're using fresh pumpkin like me (I didn't even know that canned pumpkin existed), chop your pumpkin into small chunks and boil in water on the stove until its soft.  Then drain the water and puree using a stick-blender, or mashing thoroughly should work too.  Oh, and a hint ... I weighed the pumpkin after it was pureed.

2.  Break up 3/4 of your Gingernut biscuits (my food processor didn't like me trying to crush them whole), 

 ... then blitz in a food processor until it's consistency of coarse crumbs like this ...  Be sure to save the rest of the pack for later!

3. Add the mixed spice and mix well.

4. Add the melted butter and blitz until well-combined.

This is a fairly dry base mixture.

5.  Spoon the base evenly into 12 serving cups.

For the filling ...
I used my trusty Kitchenaid, but you could totally make this using a bowl and hand whisk if you feel like an arm work-out.

6.  Using the whisk attachment, whisk the cream cheese until it's broken up, then pour in the sweetened condensed milk, and whisk until well-combined.  I started slowly (to avoid making too much mess), then when it was combined a bit, sped the mixer up to try getting as smooth-a-consistency as possible.  I hate cheese lumps in my cheesecake!

7. Pour in the pureed pumpkin and mix well with the whisk.

8.  Add the mixed spice and whisk well.

9.  Tasting is definitely a VERY important step ... it's so yummy at this stage!

10. Dissolve your gelatin in the boiling water by mixing them together in a small bowl until all the gelatin lumps are gone.  Then let the gelatin mix cool for approximately 5 minutes.  Once slightly cooled, pour into cheesecake filling, and whisk again until well-combined.  It will be a runnier consistency now, but don't worry ... it sets beautifully!

11.  Pour the filling evenly into each of the serving cups.  Then refrigerate for approximately 3-4 hours before serving (I made mine the night before!)

12.  To add a bit more texture (and gingery-ness), I blitzed the remaining 1/4 pack of gingernuts and sprinkled this as a crumb over the top of the cheese-cake.  

An there you have it ... Pumpkin Cheesecake.  A perfect dessert, super tasty, and Bethany is convinced it's healthy "'cause it has pumpkin in it" ... of course she's right ... isn't she?

And all that's left is to dig in and have a heaping big spoonful.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday 2 September 2014

It's spring!! ... And these recent pattern tests are the perfect thing!

See how I rhymed that ... ha ha ... Oh dear!!  I think I'm just delirious because winter is OVER and Spring is HERE ... and with spring comes warmth, and less runny noses and flowers and ... did I mention warmth! ... not that you'd know it today.  Spring lulled us into a false sense of security yesterday with a beautiful warm day, but today is rainy, windy and cold again.  

Anyway, all of that has absolutely nothing to do with this post, which is about some gorgeous pattern tests I've been involved in over the past couple of weeks.  If you follow me on Facebook, you might have noticed I've spent some lovely evenings sewing some beautiful things.  I love love love a good pattern test ... a free pattern, the chance to make some cute outfits and post about them, and a chance to work with some of the most amazing PDF pattern designers.  I find that I learn a new technique (or more) every time I do a pattern test, and there were definitely a few of them here!

I answered a Facebook call-out from Elegance & Elephants for a pattern test opportunity, and was so stoked when I was included.  Heidi is currently putting together a few new patterns which will be released VERY soon.  You can see her LookBook here for a sneak-peek.

Anyway, first up was the Magnolia Skirt and the Hemlock Top ... I was included to sew them up in a size 7 (perfect fit for Bethany).  Here's how they turned out.

I found these great knits at my local Spotlight.  I think with the dreary winter weather we've had lately, the bright happy print just caught my eye.  They scream spring and fun.  Oh, and a skirt that twirls never gets old, does it?  I mean, check that twirl out!  I made the Magnolia skirt first.  It truly was a dream-sew.  Very quick (like about 20 minutes or so of sewing once it was cut out) and it came together really easily.  It's a paneled skirt, and I love this style.  There are two versions, one for knit fabrics and one for woven.  I think I might try a woven one next ... maybe for Hannah ... hmmm, now, which fabric will I choose!!
Then I moved on to the Hemlock Top.  I think this is going to become one of my go-to patterns, to use for making long or short sleeve tops, or to use as a template for designing dress bodices or other fun projects.  The frills on the sleeves are so cute ... just something a little special.  The top comes with long or short sleeve options.  I think it would look great with just the frill, as a kind of cap-sleeve as well!
Anyway, Bethany loves her outfit, and it will come in handy as a great play outfit as our weather warms up.

Next I moved on to the Ponderosa Dress.  This time I signed up as a Size 3 tester, to make this little outfit for Hannah.  And how cute is it!?!
This is another Spotlight Knit Fabric ... they've actually got a few nice ones at the moment.  I coupled it with a little piece of plain red knit fabric that I found in my Mum's stash ... thanks Mum!
This dress was definitely the most technical out of the 3 outfits, but still not too difficult.  I had a little trouble with the sleeves, but I thin that says more about my lacking sewing skills than it does about the pattern.  The dress came together beautifully, and was just perfect for feeding the ducks before the rain came last weekend.  

In fact, we went out for lunch after our duck-feeding was complete and we got so many lovely comments from people about this dress and how cute it looked on Hannah.  

I can definitely see a few more of these in my future as well.  Cute as!

And now I feel the need for some more summer sewing.  I have files on my desktop of pattern links for each of the girls ... lots of sewing fun to be had I think ... yay!

Oh, and I was provided with the patterns for these items in return for testing the pattern and providing my feedback directly to Elegance & Elephants.  I was not compensated for this blog-post, and all opinions are my own.