It’s inevitable that some recipe ideas cool their heels on my to-make list for months (or even years), while others make their way from brain to belly in a matter of hours. After waxing eloquent about the butternut and ricotta combo last week, I’ll let you guess which category this cheesecake falls into…
Cut to me preheating the oven while I make a 10 pm grocery store run for squash, ricotta, and eggs.
With my brain swirling with butternut and ricotta recipes after making those twice-baked squash, I became so enamored with the idea of a squashy dessert that I almost scrapped the savory recipe altogether in favor of this cheesecake. Luckily, I convinced myself that you could handle two butternut ricotta recipes in the span of a week. And you totally can, can’t you?
Good, because I turned into a crazy lady who roasts and purees squash at midnight just so I could make this cheesecake. I wouldn’t want that crazy behavior to go to waste.
The recipes that I’m in such a rush to make are sometimes my best (stroke of genius!) and sometimes my worst (impatience squared). I’d like to think this recipe is one of the former, although that’s probably just luck. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of the latter recipes in this year’s fail post!
Thank goodness this cheesecake didn’t flop. That would just be heartbreaking.
Anyway, I used all ricotta in here – no cream cheese. That makes it a bit less sweet than traditional cheesecake, and maybe a bit lighter. It’s also not as super-smooth as a classic cheesecake might be. See that kinda grainy ricotta texture?
I’m a big fan. If I’m using a fun or unique ingredient, I don’t want it to hide. I want it to declare itself! That’s just what the ricotta does here. It’s almost like eating a canoli in cake form.
The butternut squash is not as prominent, actually. It tastes quite a bit like pumpkin (and you could totally sub pumpkin if you’re not a crazy lady who roasts squash at midnight). But I do have to say that the butternut + ricotta flavor combo is an especially good one. I’m clearly obsessed!
Bourbon maple whipped cream and candied pepitas really take this dessert over the top. You can skip them if you’re a purist (or just short on time), but I can’t get enough of this bourbon-spiked whipped cream. I could eat it by the spoonful! But I’d recommend serving it on your cheesecake, instead. Hmm… after a few spoonfuls, maybe.
This cake has the fall season written just about all over it. Perfect if you’re craving a little something different for your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebration. I hope you enjoy!
- 4 oz gingersnaps (about 16 cookies) (I used MI-DEL brand), coarsely broken
- 3 oz graham crackers (about 11 2.5-inch squares), coarsely broken
- 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 30 oz whole milk ricotta cheese (3 and 1/2 cups)
- 3/4 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 eggs + 2 egg yolks
- 2 cups cooked pureed butternut squash
- 1/3 cup raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp bourbon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cornstarch (optional, use if your whipped cream is too liquidy)
- Make the crust: Preheat oven to 325. In a food processor, process gingersnaps and graham crackers to a fine crumb. Add the butter and salt and pulse until the mixture is moistened. Press the firmly mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. I like to use a drinking glass to do this.
- Make the filling: In a large bowl, beat together ricotta, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cornstarch, and kosher salt. Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Beat in the butternut squash puree.
- Assemble and bake the cheesecake: Pour cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Place the springform pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake until the cheesecake is set and just barely jiggles in the middle, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Remove from oven and place the springform pan on a cooling rack to cool completely, then move to fridge and chill for 6-8 hours.
- Make the candied pepitas: While the cheesecake cools, increase oven temperature to 350. Line a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. In a small bowl, stir together pepitas and maple syrup. Spread as evenly as possible on the prepared baking sheet, so that there is very little overlap. Bake until beginning to brown and crisp, 6-10 minutes. Remove and cool completely before breaking up the pepitas.
- Make the bourbon maple whipped cream: Just before serving, beat the cream until it begins to thicken. Add the maple syrup, bourbon, and vanilla, and continue beating until soft peaks form. If your cream is too liquidy because of the added syrup and alcohol, or if you want a very stiff cream for decorating the cheesecake, sprinkle in the cornstarch while beating.
- To serve: Release the cheesecake from the springform pan and place on a serving plate. Sprinkle with candied pepitas. You can pipe the whipped cream decoratively around the edges of the cheesecake, or simply serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream, as I did here. Enjoy!
This cheesecake is best served on the first day made, as the crust gets a bit soggy overnight.