Oh Joy

{flavor stories} cardamom & cream cheese squares...
21 Nov 2011

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Hello! How are things? With Thanksgiving just around the corner in the States, I thought it'd be fun to make a simple pumpkin dessert. Truth be told, I'll take just about any excuse to bake with pumpkins, especially the pretty gray and green ones. 

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These squares are a combination of sorts—half no-bake cheesecake and half pumpkin pie—with a touch of cardamom. They're great for dessert or even as a mid-afternoon snack. Plus I think they're a tasty addition to a holiday get-together. 

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You'll need:
1-1/4 cup vanilla wafer crumbs {I crush vanilla wafers with a porcelain mortar & pestle}*
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 brick {250 grams or 8oz} cream cheese, room temperature  
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 cup pumpkin puree {canned or homemade}
1/4 cup maple syrup, room temperature {I love this one!}
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg + extra for garnish {I use a microplane zester}
1 1/2 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom {I use a mortar & pestle for this}
a pinch of salt {I use pink murray river flake salt}
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided

Here's how:
1. To make one 9" pan of squares {round or square}, preheat the oven 350°F. In a small bowl stir the cookie crumbs and melted butter together.

2. Press firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan and bake for 6-8 minutes or until just browned around the edges. Let cool.

3. In a small bowl stir together the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla and spices and set aside.

4. In a separate bowl whip 1/2 cup of the heavy cream to soft peaks.

5. In the bowl of the stand mixer {a hand mixer works well too} whip the cream cheese with the confectioner's sugar until light and fluffy. Gently whisk together the pumpkin and cream cheese mixes and fold in the whipped cream.

6. Smooth into prepared and cooled crust and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. To serve, whip the remaining 1/4 cup of heavy cream with a spoonful of confectioner's sugar and a dash of maple syrup. With a hot, clean knife cut into squares {it's helpful to clean your knife between slices} and serve chilled with a dollop of cream and sprinkling of fresh grated nutmeg {find the plate pictured below at Herriott Grace}. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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*For a gingery version, substitute the vanilla wafers for ginger snaps, or for a more traditional take, substitute the crushed vanilla wafers for graham wafer crumbs.

And if you're celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving!

Nikole

{photos by Michael Graydon, styling by Nikole Herriott for Oh Joy}

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