Butternut Squash Cheesecake (with a Ritz cracker crust! And salty maple caramel! And whiskey whipped cream!)

I’m a bit of a perfectionist.

butternut squash cheesecake (with a ritz cracker crust!) | www.midwestniceblog.com

If it’s not going to be perfect, and not going to be perfect because of my own doing, I want no part of it.

It’s part of the reason it took me so long to start a website. It’s part of the reason I stress out about photos. It’s part of the reason I didn’t share this cheesecake with you all yesterday.

butternut squash cheesecake (with a ritz cracker crust!) | www.midwestniceblog.com

Being a perfectionist is also a little selfish, as you can see. Being a perfectionist kept me from posting this yesterday because I couldn’t get it right. I couldn’t find the perfect hook or the perfect picture or the perfect ending. So instead of doing something, anything, I did nothing.

Perfection can be selfish and paralyzing. What a fun combo! Meh…not so much…

butternut squash cheesecake (with a ritz cracker crust!) | www.midwestniceblog.com

I’ll tell you what’s a much more fun combo – butternut squash cheesecake with a Ritz cracker crust, salted maple caramel and whiskey whipped cream. Salty, sweet, creamy, rich.

butternut squash cheesecake (with a ritz cracker crust!) | www.midwestniceblog.com

See? So much better.

butternut squash cheesecake (with a ritz cracker crust!) | www.midwestniceblog.com

So what if the pictures aren’t my favorite? So what if there’s a huge crack in it? That’s just a place for more caramel sauce to settle.

Butternut Squash Cheesecake with Ritz Cracker Crust, Salty Maple Caramel and Whiskey Whipped Cream

(Makes 1 9-inch cheesecake, recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

1 sleeve butter crackers, such as Ritz

12 Speculoos cookies

8 TBSP (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled

2 TBSP flour

½ tsp. salt

3 blocks cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 cup sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 TBSP flour

1 cup butternut squash puree

¾ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground ginger

scant ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

pinch of cloves

½ tsp. salt

½ cup heavy cream

1 recipe – salty maple caramel sauce (recipe follows)

1 recipe – whiskey whipped cream (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor, blend the crackers and cookies together until only small crumbs remain. Pour into a bowl and whisk together with flour and salt. Stir in butter using a fork until mixture resembles wet sand. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 7 – 10 minutes, until crust is lightly golden brown.

Remove from oven to cool and reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Place a small saucepan filled with warm water in the corner of the oven (this will help keep the cheesecake moist while it cooks)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the cream cheese until completely smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating a full minute between each addition. Again, scrape down the bowl to ensure there are no lumps.

Stir in vanilla, squash puree, spices and salt. Pour in heavy cream.

Pour batter into pre-baked crust and bake in preheated oven for 80 – 90 minutes until cheesecake has risen, edges are golden brown, and center no longer jiggles.

Turn off oven and open oven door a crack and allow cheesecake to cool for 1 hour. Remove from oven to rack and allow to cool to room temperature. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, if not overnight.

While the cheesecake cools, make the caramel sauce.

Salty Maple Caramel

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup water

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. sea salt

3 TBSP butter, at room temperature

In a medium saucepan combine sugar, water, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil and heat to 235 degrees. *Using an instant read thermometer here is very helpful.*

Once sugar mixture reaches temperature, pour in heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Continue heating until mixture reaches 230 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Allow to cool to room temperature before pouring over cheesecake.

Whiskey Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream

3 TBSP powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 TBSP whiskey

pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together until stiff peaks form. Serve with cheesecake.

butternut squash cheesecake (with a ritz cracker crust!) | www.midwestniceblog.com

 

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