We are hosting a pumpkin carving party this Halloween and my guests are going to love these Naturally Colored Happy Jack-O-Lantern Cheesecakes that I’ll be serving for dessert.
Adding fun designs to cheesecakes is my new thing. You might have seen a few here recently. It started with a Daisy Cheesecake, then I made a Flag, but I have to say that this one for Halloween is by far my favorite. Not only do I love the jack-o-lantern face, but I made my favorite cheesecake recipe even better by using a fresh vanilla bean instead of extract.
I got the vanilla bean recently while attending the IFBC (International Food Bloggers Conference) in Seattle.
On the first night of the conference, we walked into the Gift Suite, a room filled with Swag (free gifts) from the 50+ sponsors, and got to fill a big bag full of products. It was quite overwhelming. There were so many products I’d never seen before and I was looking forward to trying them, but I have to say I was the most excited about getting some vanilla beans from Rodelle. I love baking with fresh vanilla beans, but they are rather expensive compared to extract, so I don’t use them as often as I’d like.
As soon as I put the glass vial of the Rodelle Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans in my swag bag, recipes started going through my head. Creme Brulee … Ice Cream … Pana Cotta. I’d made all of these with vanilla beans before and loved each one of them, but had never tried using fresh beans in my cheesecake, so that’s where I decided to start.
When I opened the jar of vanilla beans, I was thrilled to find them soft and pliable and incredibly fragrant. It was so easy to cut the bean open to scrape out the seeds. I’ve purchased other beans that were dry and brittle before, so I was really happy that these were so fresh.
I figured if I was going the more natural route using the whole vanilla bean, I might as well use natural coloring too.
Earlier this year when I made my Naturally Colored Conversation Heart Cheesecakes I discovered that carrot puree makes the perfect orange color. The puree adds a nice sweet flavor but does not taste at all like carrots. I used it again to make some Cheesecake Carrots and knew it would work great here, as well.
To create the rich dark brown color, I simply used cocoa powder as my natural color source.
Once baked the design was as vibrantly colored as if I had used food coloring.
Our party is in three weeks, and being this turned out exactly as I had planned, I decided to save it and serve it that night. I wrapped it up and put it in the freezer. However, the whole point of making this vanilla bean cheesecake was so I could taste it, and I didn’t want to just cut a slice out of the cake, so before I decorated it, I poured some of the filling into a small ramekin and baked a mini cheesecake.When the smell of cheesecake filled my kitchen, I knew I was in for a treat. It was crazy hard waiting for my mini tester cake to cool enough to taste it, so I popped it in the freezer to speed up the process. When I finally got to take my first bite, I got a bit weak in the knees. It’s amazing what skinny long black bean can do.
Happy Jack-O-Lantern Cheesecake
1 1/4 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs (18 squares)
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 of a stick), melted
24 ounces (3 blocks) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 Rodelle Vanilla Bean, split and scrape out the seeds to use in filling
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream or milk
1 tablespoon carrot puree (I used Beachnut Just Carrot baby food. It’s just carrot puree.)
9 inch springform pan or PushPan*
roasting pan or round pan that is large enough to hold the springform pan*For years I’ve baked my cheesecakes in springform pans in a water bath. I always line my springform pan with a few layers of tin foil, but the water always seems to leak in to the cheesecake.
I just discovered the PushPan by Kuhn Rikon. The outer ring does not clip opened and closed, instead the bottom plate pushes in and out of the ring. It has a silicone gasket around the bottom which not only holds it in place, but miraculously keeps the water out. Another great feature it the plate is flat, no lip means its easier to remove the cheesecake. The pan does still get water under the bottom lip, but it doesn’t leak into the cake at all. I do like to wrap it in one layer of tin foil, just so that when I lift the pan out of the water and remove the foil, I don’t spill water all over my counter.
Instructions:Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter, stirring until it looks like sand. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake for 10 minutes until fragrant. Allow to cool completely.
You will need a water bath to bake your cheesecake.
You can either bring a large pot of water to a boil and pour it in the pan after you add the cheesecake, or you can fill your pan now with enough hot water so that it will come 1/2 way up the sides of your springform pan. Place that in the hot oven until ready to bake the cheesecake.
I like using a roasting pan with a flat rack inside. When the cheesecake has been baked, I can lift the entire rack out of the pan.
Beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the beater as needed. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until creamy. Add sour cream and vanilla bean seeds and beat until combined.
Scoop out 2 tablespoons of batter and stir in the cocoa powder and whipping cream. Then spoon out
3 tablespoons of batter and stir in the carrot puree.Pour the remaining filling over the baked crust and pour the colored filling into small zip top bags or squeeze bottles. I used zip top bags this time, but have to say I prefer the control I have when using a squeeze bottle.
Pipe a pumpkin design onto the cheesecake. These pumpkins are one of the few things I can draw freehand without looking at something. I’ve been drawing them for years. I modeled them after some stickers I purchased years ago. I designed my store windows and Halloween displays using them and am so excited to finally be using them for our party.
Fill in the design using the orange colored cheesecake.
Set in oven in a water bath. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 50 minutes. The center will still look giggly, but not wet. Turn oven off and open the oven door. Allow cheesecake to sit in water bath for 20 minutes. Then remove cheesecake from water bath and allow to cool at room temperature for an hour. Refrigerate for at least four hours.When you place the cheesecake in the refrigerator, I recommend draping a piece of paper towel over the pan and wrapping it in foil or plastic wrap. This will keep condensation from forming on the cheesecake.
Before serving remove from refrigerator and un-mold from springform pan or PushPan.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to a month. I wrapped my pan, froze the cake, removed the cake, wrapped it well in plastic wrap and popped it back in the freezer. Oh, and once it’s frozen, you can get it off the metal ring, so you can bake another cheesecake. I think I’m going to make a few more for our party, so my guests don’t have to fight over it.
Disclosure: I received the Rodelle Vanilla Beans as a gift from the IFBC conference. I attended the conference at a reduced rate because of the generosity of the many sponsors. I was not specifically compensated for writing this post using the Rodelle product, I was jut excited to feature it in my recipe.
Items used to create this project that are available on Amazon.com (commission earned for sales)
I actually used zip top bags to pipe on my colored cheesecake filling, but squeeze bottles work great too.
More Decorated Cheesecakes
from Hungry Happenings