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Nov 5, 2008 08:09 AM

Cooking the pumpkin before making the pie....

Hello all......

Cook's Illustrated has a pumpkin pie recipe this month that calls for cooking the pumpkin before making the pie. The idea is to create better texture through cooking off water which also concentrates flavor. My question is, do you think this would be a good idea for a cheesecake? And, can I substitute marscapone for the cream cheese ounce for ounce?

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  1. Perhaps I don't fully understand the question. Cooking the pumpkin before using it in a pie is the only practical method I know of for preparing a pumpkin pie filling. As for using it for cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake is also quite common, and I've never known anyone who made a pumpkin cheesecake with uncooked pumpkin.
    If I've missed something I apologize - I would like to help you with your issue but I need to understand it better.

    1. I'm guessing that erzuli72 means cooking canned pumpkin to cook off some of the extra water before using it, not cooking raw pumpkin. I haven't tied it, but it sounds like it would help keep it from being soggy and help with stronger pumpkin flavors.

      If you mean would it work for pumpkin cheesecake, I'd guess so.

      I don't know if you can substitute marscapone for the cream cheese. I'm guessing that the texture would be different. Cream cheese has ingredients that keep it thickened and stable. I think it is some of these ingredients that make cheesecake work. So I don't think a marscapone cake would set up. But maybe there's a way to do it as a no-bake cake with gelatin? I think you'd need a recipe or a lot of experimenting.

      4 Replies
      1. re: eamcd

        No, I think the recipe is for starting from scratch with a pie pumpkin. Canned pumpkin like Libby's needs no further cooking. Fresh pumpkin can be a bit watery, OP needs to know that the leftover Halloween pumpkin is not going to be successful. (S)he needs to buy a "sugar": or pie pumpkin. They have much less water in them. I've been there and done that. Libby's is hard to beat.

        1. re: Candy

          The recipe for pie in Cook's Illustrated uses canned pumpkin (and also uses some sweet potatoes for flavor) and eamcd is right-they do is specifically for intensifying the flavor, for keeping it from creating a soggy crust and creating a firmer texture. Evidently, when they drained the canned pumpkin, it had a really high water content but the water was flavorful so they found cooking to be a nice fix for both. My thought process was if it made a better texture for the pie, it may also work for cheesecake as well. I've also heard about a pumpkin cheesecake with marscapone recipe out there somewhere but it remains elusive. Since marscapone is good and tasty stuff, I thought maybe I could substitute one for one but the kind available to me is more dense than cream cheese, so again, I thought maybe someone would know. I didn't even think about the other ingredients in cream cheese that would create a more stable cheesecake, which makes me feel a bit silly. But anyway....

          1. re: erzuli72

            Oh, I think I understand now. Yes, I have found that cooking (reducing) canned pumpkin produces a firmer finished pie filling and, IMHO, the same process could be applied to pumpkin cheesecake. I've never used Mascarpone cheese in a cheesecake but I've read a number of recipes that combine Mascarpone and cream cheese so I would assume it's doable.
            Here's a link that uses both:

            1. re: todao

              have used mascarpone with great success in savory cheesecakes.

      2. I can't speak to the cheesecake question, but I can tell you that I've made the CI pie recipe (from their Family Cookbook) and it is the best pumpkin pie we've ever had - very very flavorful and spicy. My MIL requests it specifically at Thanksgiving. So the extra step of cooking the pumpkin is worth it.

        1. I was actually thinking of trying this recipe myself. I agree with the other posters that cooking the pumpkin would work well for cheesecake. I imagine it would be extra-helpful if you were starting with a pie pumpkin. (I usually have to drain mine in the fridge for quite a while to get all the water out.)

          Smitten kitchen had an interesting post about her experience making this pie. her post is here:

          1 Reply
          1. re: likaluca

            For those considering the CI pumpkin pie:

            I've also made this pie, but I skipped the fine mesh strainer step, and instead used a food mill, which took less than 3 minutes and minimal effort, and seemed a lot easier than pressing the filling through a fine mesh strainer! The results were excellent, and I can't imagine it being any more silky and velvety than it was with the food mill. I highly recommend this pie, but maybe this is the step to alter.

          2. I've made cheesecake with marscapone, the texture is much different than with cream cheese. It's less dense than a "NY cheesecake", i.e., it is lighter and creamier. Depending on how much pumpkin you are adding, I'd be curious as to the finished consistency and if the marscapone version might be a bit soupy. Let us know how it turns out!