I could write a survivalist novel about the past 6 months because that is in fact what I have done: survive. I have studied and passed Step 1 of the medical boards (I get PTSD just thinking about it), I have successfully completed back to back rotations in surgery and inpatient medicine; I have been sneezed on, splattered blood and other bodily fluids on, I have been sick after a patient gave me his sickness; I have been hospitalized; I have averaged 5 hours of sleep and 12 hours of work per day and I’ve had only 4 days off per month, I haven’t cooked a proper meal, baked a cupcake, read a book or ridden a bike in the past 6 months. And yet…I’ve survived and I’m OK. In fact, we all are as non of my med school friends has had a major breakdown yet.
And the lesson…if there is anything to be learned…is that life is hard and nothing worth having comes easy…and in adapting to hard times, it helps when we can deal with difficult situations with a sense of humor and while focusing on the positives…It also helps when you have enough money to order takeout everyday, enough clothes and underwear to avoid weekly laundry, good deodorant so you can go two days at a time without showering (unless you are in surgery, in which case you must shower twice a day at a minimum), a white coat that hides wrinkly blouses, a free taxi service that picks you up in the mornings and drops you off at work so you can get 30 extra minutes of sleep; an awesome husband who is taking a year off med school to do research and has more time that you do…and an off-weekend that comes along once in a while, just frequently enough to keep you sane and hopeful…I cherish all these things dearly and I am deeply grateful for them because they’ve helped me survive.
Anyways…I finished my medicine clerkship last Friday, which meant I had an entire off-weekend for myself so I got to bake a bit. I thought pumpkin cheesecake was appropriate for the season and to bring over to my in-laws for dinner this afternoon. Lets just say that a smooth top without a single crack made my day…and the Oreo chocolate crust was a hit…I’m happy to have found this recipe because it is worth keeping.
Recipe adapted from Food Network
Yields 10-12 servings
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- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs (one 16oz container of Oreo cookies, fillings scraped and discarded, crumbed in food processor)
- 2 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon brandy (optional but oh so good)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups sweetened whipped cream
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush a 10-inch springform pan with the softened 2 teaspoons of butter. Stir the remaining butter with the crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, packing it tightly and evenly. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack, then wrap the outside of the springform pan with foil and place inside a roasting pan.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add the pumpkin and continue to beat for 4 minutes. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, 1 teaspoon salt and the spices and beat until just combined. Pour into the cooled crust.
Gently place the roasting pan (with the springform pan inside) in the oven and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake until the outside of the cheesecake sets but the center is still loose, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door sightly to let out some heat. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 3 more hours, then remove from the roasting pan and cool completely. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Bring the cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Unlock and remove the springform ring. To finish, place a dollop of the whipped cream on each slice.