Is anyone else excited that it's October?? Or better yet, pumpkin season? Well I will be the very first to admit that I am super excited. In celebration of this wonderful month I'm going to feature a variety of posts about this beloved flavor that conjures up images of flame-colored leaves, cute Halloween decor, warm inviting spices, and cozy holiday feasts. I'll share some of my favorite seasonal items from "pumpkin central" Trader Joe's, share my mom's home canned pumpkin recipe, and finally the recipe for my all-time favorite autumn treat: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies with cream cheese frosting! But to kick things off, I'm going to start with a pair of pumpkin cheesecake reviews, because you need fair warning to get in to a Cheesecake Factory before these seasonal favorites disappear!
A year ago when we moved within 5 minutes of a Cheesecake Factory, it became one of our favortie date night getaways. We'd grab a slice of cheesecake to go, drive to the nearby movie theater, and eat our dessert covertly before heading in to catch a show. This was kind of where I got the idea to start reviewing cheesecakes because we had so much fun analyzing all the different varieties. Since it was Fall, one of the cakes we sampled was the Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake. This cheesecake is the solution to the age-old post-holiday feast dilemma: which pie to have? There you are, already full from eating way too much at dinner, and then they have the gall to break out the desserts and start asking, "pecan or pumpkin?" Are you kidding me? You want me to choose between the smooth mellow goodness of custardy pumpkin and the caramel sweet nuttiness of pecan? I admit, I am biased towards the pumpkin, but that is still a tough call. After feigning a lack of desire for any dessert, if you're like me you usually end up taking one small slice of each (...and then end up taking another small slice of each). Well, now you can have both together, slapped one atop the other in a medley that seems so natural you'll wonder why you never stacked your pies that way yourself. The bottom layer has pecans in a rich caramel-custard filling, and on top is a smooth delicious layer of pumpkin cheesecake, a little lighter than your typical pumpkin pie, but every bit as flavorful. The whole thing is topped by a gooey pecan studded glaze. Each bite gives you a sample of each of the two holiday pie favorites. A tad on the rich side, I recommend sharing this one if you have it after a meal.
It wasn't until this year that we tried the straight up, plain ol' Pumpkin Cheesecake. I wasn't disappointed. Pumpkin pie is my absolute favorite part of Thanksgiving, hands down. We could skip the turkey for all I care as long as we have that pie, piled with mounds of sweetened freshly whipped real whip cream (no squeezy-whip allowed). I was afraid the cheesecake version would be really cheesecakey, meaning it would be dense and taste a lot more like cream cheese, but the flavor was delightfully light, like a slightly fluffier version of pumpkin pie. Of course, there is a greater filling to crust ratio, so depending on how much you like the crust that could be a good or bad thing. I thought it was great. It's even garnished with a few pecans which adds a nice texture, but it is still a lot simpler and lighter than the Pecan Pumpkin, and better suited to eating after a big meal.
It was a sad day last year when the holidays ended and these two flavors disappeared. I can't tell you precisely when that happens, so if you want to try either variety, hurry in. They are both available right now and should be at least through November. After Thanksgiving passes though, all is not lost, as we have the Peppermint Bark Cheesecake to look forward to! Watch for that review in a couple months.