It's easy to draw your own cute or scary cheesecake designs – all you need is a little imagination!
Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. I remember all the fun I had as a kid getting dressed up in my costume and running through the neighborhood collecting free candy. Every year we host an elaborate Halloween party and I'm always looking to create exciting new desserts.
Recently I discovered how easy it is to paint on cheesecakes. By just reserving a small amount of the cheesecake filling you can color it and pipe it on top before it goes in the oven. The design bakes right into the top of the cake and looks really striking!
This is such a simple technique – all it requires is a small amount of artistic ability. I'm not one of those people who can just draw something from my imagination (I need to cheat a bit) so I use free clip art or coloring pages to use as a guide. I keep my designs really simple, but if you are a talented artist, the sky is the limit.
I chose a simple black cat silhouette for this pumpkin cheesecake, but you could paint black bats flying over the moon or create an elaborate haunted house. Be creative and have some fun!
Fall is the perfect time to serve pumpkin cheesecake, so I started out by creating a spiced pumpkin cheesecake filling. The cheesecake has just the right amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger and a lovely pumpkin flavor. Since I knew I was going to add a black cat I decided to use chocolate graham crackers for my crust. I love the combination of chocolate and pumpkin, but this cheesecake would taste great with a plain graham cracker crust (or even gingersnap).
I like to have the crust go up the sides, so I used the bottom of a glass to pat it down. It created a thin crust on the bottom and all around the sides. But if you prefer, you can skip adding sides and just have it on the bottom.
Once my crust was baked and my filling prepared, I was ready to turn this ordinary dessert into something really cool for Halloween. I reserved a small amount of the filling for my drawing. The rest was poured into the springform pan.
Cheesecake filling can easily be colored using food coloring, but for this I decided to use cocoa powder to add the necessary color as well as a nice chocolatey flavor. Once the cocoa powder was added the filling became quite thick, so I added a little bit of heavy cream to thin it out. Then I poured it into a squeeze bottle fitted with a small round pastry tip. Using my free clip-art as a guide, I piped on the outline of the cat's body.
Then I filled in the body with chocolate cheesecake filling.
The cheesecake filling was a little thick and I didn't want to see lines, so I used the back of the small spoon to smooth it out. I tried to add a little texture, making my cat look a little furry, but in the end once it was baked it all smoothed out anyway.
It's important to bake your cheesecake in a water bath so you don't end up with cracks on top. This is a very thick cheesecake and it takes quite a long time to bake, so if you don't use a water bath this cake will surely crack! I filled a large roasting pan with some boiling water, then set my filled springform pan in the roasting pan. I then added more water until the water level came halfway up the side of the springform pan. If you aren't using a leak-proof springform pan it's very important that you add a few layers of tin foil around the bottom of your pan so it doesn't leak.
My cake took about an hour and 15 minutes to bake, but because this cake is so thick and I wanted to make sure the center was baked through, I left it in the water bath with the oven door open and the heat turned off for an extra 30 minutes. The cheesecake was perfectly baked and had a wonderful creamy texture.
This cheesecake doesn't take much prep time, but you're going to have to wait to dig in. It needs to cool for at least one hour at room temperature and then in the refrigerator for at least four hours. You can keep the cheesecake in the refrigerator for several days before serving. Cover the top of your springform pan with paper towels, then wrap the pan in plastic wrap and store until you're ready to use it. The paper towels will keep moisture droplets from forming on top of the cheesecake. I like to keep mine in the springform pan until I'm ready to serve them – it keeps the shape nicely and won't get bumped around. When you're ready to serve the cheesecake, run a thin spatula around the outer edge and remove it from the pan. Then set it on a serving platter.
I decided I didn't want the edge of my springform pan base to show, so I piped some chocolate frosting rosettes around the edge of my cheesecake.
Have fun personalizing your cheesecake for Halloween (or any holiday).
Beth happily spends her days creating fun food and handmade chocolate and enjoys sharing step-by-step tutorials with her readers on her blog Hungry Happenings. Be sure to check out her profile to see all the other festive foods she's made for Tablespoon.com.