Seminole pumpkin cheesecake

I am obsessed with a local badass southern heirloom squash, the Seminole Pumpkin. It grows well here here, tastes amazing, stores a long time and is super versatile in the kitchen. Plus it has a wonderful story, evolving alongside native tribes living in Florida. It sustained them, and they coaxed forth an edible squash from the wild, that thrived in the hot, humid climate, and poor soils of Florida.

In the late 1700’s when William Bartram was traveling and exploring the south, he exclaimed, “It is very pleasing to observe the banks of the river [St. Johns] ornamented with hanging garlands, composed of varieties of climbing vegetables . It is exceedingly curious to behold the wild squash climbing over the lofty limbs of the trees; its yellow fruit, somewhat of the size and figure of a large orange, pendant from the extremities of the limbs over the water.”
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Check out their diversity of shapes, colors and sizes from David the Good’s Seminole Pumpkin Project! I am certain that over the years especially as it’s gained popularity among gardeners saving their own seeds, that some have become cross-pollinated with other Cucurbita moschata.

I’ll say it in every “recipe” I post: sorry for lack of specific amounts. I don’t measure often, or write things down. Hopefully you have some agility in the kitchen to just make stuff work, and know that a lot of this stuff is negotiable.

The great thing about this desert is that there is very little sugar, none is added except for a squirt of honey and/or molasses. Both of those are negotiable. If you are used to super sweet deserts, this one may take some getting used to.

Filling

About 1.5-2 cups cooked, pureed Seminole pumpkin
2 packages of cream cheese
3 eggs
generous squirt of honey and/or molasses
lots of spices: generous chunks of grated ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and a dash of cayenne pepper

vanilla extract

Crust

roasted nuts (I used approx. 2 cups of mixed walnuts, cashews and almonds)
dark chocolate chips
some coconut oil drizzled into nut mixture just enough to make it start sticking
about a tbsp or so of butter
a few dried dates
a few dried apricots
more spices if you want them
Instructions

For crust, blend up all the dried stuff in a food processor till crumbly then add the fruits and oils till you get a doughy kinda greasy thing. Press it flat into a springform cake pan. Put it in the fridge while you make the cake.

For the filling, I use a food processor to puree the pumpkin so it’s really smooth with no chunks. Add the cream cheese till nice and smooth followed by the eggs and all the spices. Once the batter is nice and creamy and whipped, pour it into the cake pan.

Cook about 370F for approx. 45 -60 minutes until the outside rim of about 2″ is firmish to the touch; the center can be jiggly but not soupy. There may be some cracking too. Let it cool for awhile before putting in the refrigerator, where it will need to chill about 4 hours before eating.

Consider drizzling on a sauce of some sort, whipped cream or whatever else suits your fancy.

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