Posted by: thefitacademic | November 24, 2010

Cookin’ up a storm

Oh my gosh, y’all – I spent longer in the kitchen today than I have in probably the last 9 months – at least!

But it has been worth it! I’m already seeing the fruits of my labor.

CARAMEL is what started it all.

You see, I’m a caramel girl. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy chocolate too. But my entire life I’ve always far preferred caramel – no contest! So when I saw how easy it is to make your own caramel, I set out in search of a recipe that would put it to good use. Enter scene:  Pumpkin Bourbon Caramel Cheesecake

First, I needed to make the caramel sauce – only 3 ingredients: water, sugar, and heavy whipping cream.

Next, I baked a homemade ginger snap cookie crust (no pic)

Then I made homemade pecan pralines & broke it into chunks (sorry the pic is really poor quality)

Then I mixed together the pumpkin (can’t get enough!), cream cheese, and the rest of the ingredients, stirred in the pralines, and poured into the prepared pie crust. Stopped half way to add some caramel, then poured the rest of the cream cheese mix on top. Baked. Topped with more caramel and pralines.

There was so much of the pumpkin cheesecake mixture left that the hubbs decided to whip up a graham cracker crust in little muffin tins, then baked up some individually sized pumpkin cheesecakes minus the pralines.

Here’s the Recipe ~ I found it here, but I’ll re-post directions:


Pumpkin Bourbon Caramel Cheesecake


1 ½ cup gingersnaps, finely ground

2 Tbs light- or dark-brown sugar

4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted (more if needed)


*Caramel Sauce*

1 ¾ cup sugar

1 Tbs. light corn syrup

2 Tbs. hot water

1 cup warm cream

1 Tbs unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla


*Pecan Pralines*

1 cup whole pecan halves

½ cup dark-brown sugar

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch salt

1/8 tsp pepper (or less, to taste)

3 Tbs. egg whites



1 ½ cup solid-packed pumpkin

3 large eggs

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp ginger

½ tsp salt

½ cup caramel sauce

1 ½ pound cream cheese, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

2 Tbs. cornstarch

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 Tbs bourbon or dark rum

Chopped pralines



For crust, preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9 or 10 inch pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Combine gingersnap crumbs and sugar in bowl. Mix in melted butter and stir until crust holds together. Press crumbs onto the bottom of the pan. Bake 10 minutes and set aside to cool.

To make the caramel sauce, combine in a heavy saucepan 1 ¾ cups sugar with corn syrup and hot water. Stir to blend and cook over medium until melted. Cook sugar, swirling pan, until a deep caramel.

Add warmed cream carefully, because caramel will splatter & bubble, stirring occasionally, until dissolves. Let boil about 1 minute without stirring and removing from heat.

Remove a little more than ½ cup of the caramel for cheesecake filling and set aside and allow to cool. Into the remaining caramel, stir butter and 1 tsp vanilla and cool to room temperature.

To make pralines: Place pecans in a small bowl. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Pour egg whites over pecans and toss to coat with egg whites.

Pour dry ingredients over pecans and stir to coat, being careful not to break the pecans. Pour onto a baking sheet and bake 350 until  sugar coating is dry, about 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove 12 pecan halves and coarsely chop the remainder.

To make the filling, blend pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and ½ cup cooled caramel.

In mixer, cream together cream cheese and sugar on low until smooth. Add cornstarch, vanilla and bourbon. Add pumpkin and beat until smooth. Fold in chopped pralines. Pour mixture into pre-baked crust and bake 50 minutes, until cake is just set. Cool 5 minutes.

Top with cooled caramel sauce, spreading evenly. Arrange pralines decoratively on top and chill, covered, overnight.



I also needed to make dinner at the same time. I opted for something easy ~ some chicken marinated in Trader Joe’s Soyaki (I’m so obsessed!) & stir fried. Made a pot of rice with some chicken broth that made it super yum. Also boiled some broccoli & threw it into the mix when everything was being plated

And some homemade ice tea to drink (the ice tea maker was another wedding present – score!)

Oh – also up in the mix I baked all of the sweet potatoes for tomorrow’s sweet potato casserole (sorry – no pic)

The entire process probably took about 3 1/2 hours… WAY longer than my usual time spent in the kitchen. It was also the kind of cooking event that required so many bowls that I had to stop and do dishes in the middle because I didn’t have enough for everything without cleaning & re-using!


Also today I took Rocky on a walk around the neighborhood, picked up some groceries, hit up the gym at school to work on some weights before they closed for the rest of the week, went into the office to have another Skype conference call, and had my fake nails (that I had done before my wedding 2 weeks ago) removed + had a manicure done. I opted for a very dark plum color ~ it’s a new OPI color released for the holidays, apparently. What do you think?

I’m going to attempt to pull the hubbs away from his new video game thingy so we can go rent a movie or possibly pick up some wood so we can enjoy the nice fire pit he’s built in our back yard (we were going to have the first fire tomorrow, but who knows – maybe we’ll do it tonight, too??)

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!!



  1. I love everything about this post… the cheesecake, the ice tea maker, and the nails! 🙂

  2. I’d like to have second helpings of those desserts, yum!

    What color of OPI is that, love it!
    I painted mine OPI You Don’t Know Jacques

    • Not sure – I looked at the salon, but I’ve got a terrible memory! The color I usually go with (a shade of red) is called “I’m not really a waitress” – OPI is the best! : )

  3. […] Lunch/Dinner also featured canned corn, rolls straight from the bag, canned cranberries and a green salad (all easy stuff). After digesting for awhile I went back for the dessert that I’d prepared yesterday, the Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake! […]

  4. Wow, that cheesecake looks AMAZING!!!! And I saw your recipe for sweet potato casserole, too, and that sounds just like my grandma’s!! I hate it when people skimp on the toppings when it’s Thanksgiving!! So kudos to you! 😀

  5. That recipe sounds great! I’m going to have to try it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: