Uncommon Pumpkin Cheesecake

I have been enjoying developing my own recipes lately and my latest endeavor is a Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache.  I got the idea when I was trying to think of an entry for the WMUR/Common Man Favorite Holiday Dessert Contest.  I had to tape a video as my entry so you can see me making it here.  I made three cheesecakes in three days to get the recipe right and then do the taping, it was an overload of cheesecake at my house.  Luckily, I have a family that is more than willing to sample my recipes and give comments.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache

Crust:

½ cup toasted hazelnuts

¼ cup sugar

7 graham crackers

1 tsp cinnamon

5 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Grind the hazelnuts and sugar in the food processor until roughly chopped.  Add the graham crackers and cinnamon and pulse until fine crumbs.  Dump the crumbs into a 9 inch springform pan and add the melted butter.  Stir together until all the crumbs are moist and then press on the bottom and half way up the sides of the pan to form a crust.  Bake for 10 minutes and then let cool slightly.

Filling:

2 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened

1 aseptic container of firm silken tofu

1 cup light brown sugar

3 Tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp vanilla

1 can pumpkin puree

Puree the cream cheese and tofu in the food processor until combined.  Add the brown sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the vanilla and pumpkin and blend until uniform, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Pour into prepared crust and bake for 50-55 minutes or until the center is set but still slightly jiggly.

Ganache:

8 oz semi-sweet chocolate

pinch of salt

1 cup heavy cream

2 tsp hazelnut syrup

½ cup toasted chopped hazelnuts

When the cheesecake is done let it cool for 30 minutes and then make your ganache.  Break the chocolate up into small piece and place in small bowl with the salt.  Heat the cream in the microwave for about 1 minute or until simmering.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes.  Stir the cream and chocolate together until smooth.  Stir in the hazelnut syrup.  Pour the ganache over the cheesecake and tilt the pan to coat the top evenly.  Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the top and press lightly into the ganache.  Chill at least five hours but preferably over night.  Serves 12.

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