I've been meaning to do this since Thanksgiving, and just haven't found the time until this week. I make a pumpkin cheesecake for thanksgiving that is so good - I prefer it over pumpkin pie any day, it has that great flavor, but I love the cheesecake texture over most pumpkin pies. My kids loved it too, so I've been thinking about doing a version for home. If you think about it, cheesecake can actually be a great kid breakfast if we just are a little careful with the recipe. Cream cheese, eggs, pumpkin, some spices and vanilla for extra flavor, and just enough sweetness from real maple syrup (no refined sugar in this) to make them want to eat it. It's actually pretty good for them, but they think they're having dessert for breakfast! So I'll tell you now - I made this recipe specifically with the intention of feeding it to my kids for breakfast - it is intentionally not as decadently sweet and rich as some dessert cheesecake recipes (I'll find a copy of the one I make for Thanksgiving and share it for comparison, I think it has less eggs and a LOT more sweetener.). So if you're looking for over the top richness, this might not be your bet. But for a lighter (but still wonderful!) dessert, or for a breakfast treat - I think this is about as good as it gets. I feel pretty good about letting them have as much of this as they want - they're eating cheese, eggs, organic squash, and a little real maple syrup.
Ingredients for my breakfast cheesecake:
- 24 ounces cream cheese (not the whipped kind) - softened
- 4 eggs - preferably organic, farm fresh - or from your back yard chickens if you have them (will you share with me??)
- 2 cups of pureed pumpkin (I used pumpkin that I cooked and pureed, but I suppose canned pumpkin will work fine, just make sure it's only pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie seasoning
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dark amber maple syrup
- (and - an after thought - I think some lemon zest would be really good, but I forgot it)
- a pint of whipping cream + another tablespoon or two of maple syrup
So here's the tricky part - dump all of the above (except the whipping cream) into a mixing bowl. ;-) And mix until it's well blended, no lumps of cream cheese left, but try not to beat a bunch of air into it. Or if you really want to be more careful, you could mix everything but the eggs, and then lightly beat the eggs separately and then stir them in. You could do this in an electric or stand mixer, I just did it in a bowl with a whisk. Some days I weigh the extra time it might take me to do something by hand, versus the time it would take me to get out the appliance, use it, wash it, and put it away again - and sometimes doing it by hand wins.
Now if you want to make this into a big pie you can - look up a graham cracker crust recipe and do it in a springform pan in a water bath (or the thanksgiving one I make has a crust of graham crackers, pecans and butter). But for the kids I like to make these in little serving sizes. I had a package of mini graham cracker crusts left from the holidays, so I poured some batter in those. And I did some in little ramekins, no crust or greasing or anything. And I did some in a mini muffin pan - that one I greased a little and dusted with almond meal (a few of the stuck a little , but not bad). Then baked at 325 for 30 - 45 minutes, depending on what size you're doing (obviously longer if you do one big pie). They're done when they are fairly firm - they might still be a little jiggly (is that a word?), but not runny in the middle, and maybe starting to crack just a little. They'll settle a little as they cool, and get more creamy.
It's tempting to want to taste this while still warm. And of course I did. But really this needs to be fully cooled and then chilled in order to really appreciate it. And I like to serve a good dollop of maple whipped cream on top. Once you've had whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup, you might never go back. It doesn't take much - a spoonful or two. And I don't even bother getting out the mixer for whipping cream any more - I have one of these nifty BlenderBottles, I just pour it in there and shake for 5 minutes or so.
Having these in the fridge made for such an easy school day breakfast - no heating, no cooking, just smiles.