Halloween is only two days away, and somehow I've yet to share a single spooky treat with you guys! Halloween has sort of been an afterthought for me this year unfortunately. Usually Shane and I get pumpkins to carve and pull out the related decorations and then I'll head out and pick up a ton of candy for the trick-or-treaters. We get SO many in our neighborhood we always seem to run out. Then we turn off the lights, hide in the basement and hope no one eggs our house :)
Anyway, with me being away, we didn't do our pumpkins, and since Shane's parents don't usually get any trick-or-treaters at their house, I haven't bought any candy at all. I did, however, get to work over the weekend and whip up two fun desserts in honor of the holiday! Assuming we don't lose power due to Sandy (fingers crossed!), I'll be sharing the second one on Wednesday.
But today, let's talk about this spiderweb cheesecake - I am completely in love with it! I had seen the spiderweb idea in a Martha Stewart cookbook and was dead-set on recreating it for Halloween. It wound up being easier and less time-consuming than I expected - I think I spent maybe 15-20 minutes total on the web. And I was thrilled with the result; it pained me to have to cut into it and destroy the web! Spiders totally creep me out but I couldn't resist adding these little toy spiders to really set the scene :)
As much as I love the spiderweb, it was also important to me that the cheesecake actually taste good, and this one is definitely a winner! Initially I'd planned to do a no-bake cheesecake because making a "real" one always seems like a major time commitment, but I'm glad I made the investment for this spiced pumpkin version. It has a fantastic creamy, smooth texture and the pumpkin flavor really comes through without being overwhelming. I love the chocolate and pumpkin combo so I did an Oreo crust, but you could certainly do graham crackers if you'd rather. I'm not sure how much it comes through in the pics, but this is a really tall cheesecake - it'll feed a lot of people. If you don't have a crowd to serve, wrap it well and stick it in the freezer. That's where 90% of this one went, Shane's parents will be enjoying it well into November!
Looking for more Halloween ideas? Here are some of my faves from past years:
Red Velvet Brain Cupcakes
Chocolate Spider Cupcakes
Creepy Crawler Cupcakes
Spiced Pumpkin Spiderweb Cheesecake
filling from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, spiderweb from Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts
16 Oreo cookies
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups (10 1/3 oz) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 lb cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
5 large eggs, left at room temperature, about 30 minutes
1 cup heavy cream
2 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 325 F with a rack in the bottom third. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
To make the crust: Pulse the Oreos in your food processor until they are broken down into uniform crumbs. Turn them out into a bowl and add the salt, stirring to incorporate. Add the butter and use a fork to mix until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer to the prepared pan and press into an even layer over the bottom (the bottom of a measuring cup or glass makes this easier). Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until set. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool while you make the filling. Get some water boiling to use for the water bath for the cheesecake.
To make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, the spices and the salt together. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels, then spread the pumpkin puree in an even layer over them. Top with several layers of paper towels and press to remove as much moisture from the pumpkin as possible.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add the sugar mixture in 3 additions, allowing each to incorporate fully before adding the next and stopping to scrape the bowl as necessary. Mix in the pumpkin puree, vanilla and lemon juice until well combined, about 45 seconds. With the mixer on medium-low, add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated, about 1 minute total. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the heavy cream, beating until combined. Use a rubber spatula to stir the batter by hand, ensuring it's completely uniform.
Pour the filling into the pan over the crust and smooth the top. Place the springform pan inside of a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on the oven rack and pour boiling water (carefully) into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake for 75-90 minutes, or until the center of the cheesecake wobbles slightly when the pan is shaken and the cake registers 150 F.
Remove the roasting pan to a wire rack and run a thin paring knife around the edge of the cheesecake and the pan. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the roasting pan for 45 minutes, or until the water is just warm. Remove the springform pan from the roasting pan and place on a wire rack - continue to cool for 3 more hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
After the cheesecake has been chilled, wrap a hot towel around the outside of the springform pan for 1 minute, then remove the sides of the pan.
To make the spiderweb: Add the chopped chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30-second bursts on 50% power, stirring in between each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let the chocolate cool slightly then transfer it to a piping bag and snip off a tiny corner.
Starting in the center, pipe lines out to the other edge of the cake. You can do as many or as few as you like. Then, starting near the outer edge of the cake, pipe slightly curved lines connecting the spokes going out from the center. As you move in closer to the center of the cake, the curved lines should get slightly closer together. Allow the chocolate to set (it'll only take a few minutes assuming the cheesecake was chilled). Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.