When I made breakfast for Wolfgang Puck, I asked him what he tastes first when doing a new concept or revamping a menu. Without hesitation, he said, "Sweets!" Me too.
Growing up, there was always a cake in my house "just in case someone comes over," as my mother would say. And while she hated to cook, she did bake, sometimes from scratch (oh, how I wish I could re-create her Graham Cracker Cake) or from Duncan Hines, which was the only kosher mix on the market then.
And the major treat was Chocolate Pudding, which she would make (from the box) on nights we had a 'dairy' meal. Pure bliss.
Is dessert just the ending of the meal? Not for me. It's the lasting impression I take from the meal. Many OK meals have left a better memory if the dessert was delicious.
I'm a fan of simple, direct, clear tastes. Too many elements on the plate and ingredients I can't pronounce or describe leave me feeling like I'll make the wrong decision and order the wrong thing! It's then that I might have to share, in case your selection tastes better than mine!
One of my most favorite desserts to make and eat is this Pumpkin Cheesecake. Just in time for the season, but delicious any time, serve it with barely sweetened whipped cream and you'll never have a lackluster pumpkin pie again.
PREHEAT OVEN TO 425
1 1/2 CUPS GRAHAM CRACKER CRUMBS
2 TBSP. SUGAR
1/3 CUP MELTED BUTTER ( UNSALTED)
IN A 9" SPRINGFORM PAN, BLEND THE CRUMBS AND SUGAR. ADD THE MELTED BUTTER AND MIX THOROUGHLY. PRESS THE CRUMBS FIRMLY ON THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN AND SET ASIDE.
1 1/2 LBS. DELI STYLE CREAM CHEESE
1 CUP SUGAR
3 EGGS, EXTRA LARGE
1 CUP SOLID PACK PUMPKIN
2 TSP. PUMPKIN PIE SPICE
BEAT THE CREAM CHEESE IN A STAND MIXER, OR IN A BOWL WITH A HAND MIXER OR BLEND IN A FOOD PROCESSOR.
ADD THE SUGAR AND MIX WELL. BE SURE TO SCRAPE THE BOWL SEVERAL TIMES.
ADD THE EGGS, ONE AT A TIME AND BEAT UNTIL SMOOTH.
SCRAPE BOWL AGAIN - ESPECIALLY ON THE BOTTOM.
ADD THE PUMPKIN AND PIE SPICE AND MIX WELL.
POUR INTO PREPARED SPRINGFORM.
BAKE AT 425 FOR 10 MINUTES.
LOWER THE HEAT TO 250 AND BAKE FOR 50 MINUTES MORE.
REMOVE FROM OVEN AND LET COOL ON A RACK UNTIL YOU CAN HANDLE IT COMFORTABLY.
PUT IN REFRIGERATOR AND CHILL OVERNIGHT. (CAN BE MADE SEVERAL DAYS AHEAD)
ENJOY AND REMEMBER TO GIVE THANKS.