Baked Eggnog Pumpkin Cheesecake—Prototype 1:
This one combines a couple of popular late autumn flavors. It was after doing some backtrack research, including on the third prototype of my combination Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake, that my plans came together for the eggnog-pumpkin combo provided here. The highlights included relatively large amounts of cottage cheese, flour and lemon juice (in many ways similar to the chocolate-peanut butter counterpart). Some adjustments were made to the brown sugar, rum extract and nutmeg as well.

In light of my being concerned about the crust being too soggy, I tried a new approach with it—I "pre-baked" it a little, before adding any batter on top.
Eggnog Crust:
1/2 cup (8 oz.) whipped lowfat cottage cheese, no salt added
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup light eggnog
2.2 oz. finely ground Bran Buds

Pour (or press) into the pan, getting this crust evenly distributed. Next, refrigerate for about half an hour, or until slightly firm. Afterwards, bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes (no bath at this point—just put the pan directly on the rack), then remove from oven and cool down slightly (until the pan is no longer too hot to the touch—about 5 minutes).

Pumpkin Batter:
2 tablespoons melted or softened butter
4 oz. pumpkin butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/8 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (20 oz.) whipped lowfat cottage cheese, no salt added
2 eggs

Turn oven up to 325 degrees. Add the pumpkin batter on top of the crust. Then put the foil on the pan (no earlier—less foil disturbance means less leakage risk) and place into a hot bath. Bake for about 30 minutes. Tip: When handling the pan-foil assembly at this point, lift it by the pan's rim, not by the foil (let the foil cling to the pan's rim—optionally, you can also position your fingers to hold the foil in place, but do not put pressure on it to lift the entire pan—otherwise, the foil may tear).

Eggnog Batter:
2 tablespoons butter, softened or melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon rum extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (20 oz.) whipped lowfat cottage cheese, no salt added
2 cups of light eggnog
7/8 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs

Carefully scoop this on top of the pumpkin batter, turn oven down to 300 degrees and resume baking for about 100 minutes.

Eggnog Pumpkin Cheesecake—Prototype 1 (whole) Eggnog Pumpkin Cheesecake—Prototype 1 (slice)

When I added the eggnog batter on top of the pumpkin, I was already suspecting a problem. As I scooped the eggnog batter, it seemed to be sinking into the partially-baked pumpkin batter, leading me to reason that a 30-minute head start was too short. Because of this "sinkage" concern, I suspected the eggnog batter to be too dense compared to its pumpkin counterpart (I took a chance, after careful consideration beforehand, on the densities being the other way around). Nevertheless, the batters came out separated (hopefully) the way I intended, at least visually, when the slices were cut.

To my surprise, however, I felt that the pumpkin flavor was too weak overall for this combination cheesecake—but the eggnog presence was fine (its strength easily blew away the pumpkin's).

Furthermore, despite a total batter cooking time of a record 130 minutes (30 minutes head start for the pumpkin batter, another 100 minutes after adding the eggnog batter), the whole thing turned out what I felt to be too soft (hopefully not runny, but still too limp).

Ideas quickly came into my mind for the next prototype. Should I make the crust pumpkin-flavored instead of eggnog? Should I increase the baking time? How about more of a head start for the pumpkin batter? Should I use more flour in both batters? To add more flour would be somewhat tricky, because the overall height of this combo cheesecake was already within about 1/4" of the top of the pan (and this ended up as one heavy cheesecake). Thanks mainly to the two cups of eggnog for the batter, the height of its resulting layer was considerably higher than that of the pumpkin batter's.

Still, this combination was another big hit during a November "potluck" at Living Hope Church.

Starting with this prototype, I began switching over my flour, from all-purpose to whole white wheat (which has been said to be about as good nutritionally—or at least have about as much fiber—as the more traditional whole red wheat, yet have a taste about as mild as the oh-so familiar all-purpose). All-purpose was actually in the majority for the recipe here, as I simply finished this flour off and then used the whole white wheat to "close the gap". For those who are curious about more details, I went from Pillsbury all-purpose (in my earlier cheesecakes) to King Arthur organic (!) all-purpose (for a small handful of cheesecakes) to King Arthur organic whole white wheat.

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