Baked Eggnog Pumpkin Cheesecake—Prototype 4:
Flip the two batters—go back to putting the eggnog on top of the pumpkin, just like in the first two prototypes. It seemed like the pumpkin batter was denser than the nog's.

Furthermore, reasoning that the pumpkin flavor was somewhat lagging behind, I decided to bump up the pumpkin butter by an extra ounce as well.

But what about the excessive amount of batter?

Got cupcake wrappers? See below.
2-to-1 Blend of Yogurt Cheese and Cottage Cheese:
Prepare ahead of time 2 pounds of yogurt cheese, derived from two 32-ounce containers of nonfat yogurt. If the resulting yogurt cheese falls below 32 ounces, add back enough of the whey (that was strained out from the yogurt) to make up the difference. To this yogurt cheese combine 16 ounces (1 pint) of whipped, lowfat cottage cheese.

2 oz. melted, white chocolate
1 cup (8 oz.) 2-to-1 blend of yogurt cheese and cottage cheese (see above)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 2/3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2.2 oz. Bran Buds, ground up

Pour this crust mixture into pan (9 to 9 1/2 inches) and pre-bake without tub at 300 degrees for 10 minutes, then cool enough to comfortably touch at least the pan's upper sidewall.

Pumpkin Batter:
2 tablespoons melted or softened butter
5/8 cup granulated sugar
3 cups (24 oz.) 2-to-1 blend of yogurt cheese and cottage cheese (see above)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 oz. pumpkin butter
2 eggs

Turn oven up to 325 degrees. Add pumpkin batter (all of it) on top of crust. Put on foil, place into hot bath. Bake for about 40 minutes.

Eggnog Batter:
2 tablespoons butter, softened or melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups (16 oz.) 2-to-1 blend of yogurt cheese and cottage cheese (see above)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup arrowroot
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rum extract
2 cups light eggnog
2 eggs

Carefully scoop this on top of the pumpkin batter, filling up the springform pan within its capacity (set aside any remaining eggnog batter). Then turn oven down to 300 degrees and resume baking for about 120 minutes (if using a 9 1/2" pan). Next, cool down while still in oven (with this oven shut off) and in tub with door slightly ajar for an hour. Afterwards, remove from oven and tub and continue to cool down at room temperature for another 3 hours, then remove from pan and refrigerate (at least for a few hours, allowing the cheesecake to get more firm).

As for any remaining eggnog batter (which will probably not be much), grab a few baking cups, pour the batter into them, bake these cupcake-style eggnog cheesecakes at 300 degrees for about 50 minutes (go ahead, put them in the same oven as the big cheesecake, but don't bother immersing them in a tub), cool for about 50 minutes afterward, chill for a least a few hours—and enjoy!

Eggnog Pumpkin Cheesecake—Prototype 4

There were some new lessons to be learned from this prototype.

Carefully scoop, as much upper batter as you can, onto the lower batter, before "dumping" (or pouring, with greater pressure) the rest of the upper onto the lower. It looks like I took the suspected higher density of the pumpkin batter too much for granted. I started off by scooping small amounts of the eggnog batter until the entire pumpkin surface was coated. Then, because of the oven's heat—and my desire to avoid "baking" my skin—I ditched the scoop and outright poured the remaining destined-for-the-pan (i.e., to capacity) eggnog batter on top. Unfortunately, the deceptively gentle-looking stream of batter burst the pumpkin surface, causing much of it to erupt and float upward. There's got to be a better way—without burning myself! Up to this point, the upper batter layer addition has been done at the oven (rack pulled somewhat forward for easier access), because I felt that pulling the whole assembly out (tub, hot water, springform pan, etc.) would be too much of a hassle (bulky, heavy, big risk of boiling hot water spill). Instead, how about wearing an oven mitt? Too clumsy, I feared—too much risk of dropping the scoop. And I was more used to reaching bare-handedly into the blender's pitcher. I did not want to accidentally touch its inside with a bulky, possibly dirty mitt.

Tentative future proposal: Take the whole thing out of the oven anyway, and carefully get it to a comfortable place. With the hot tub water that's a tough task! I would simply have to start off with a shallower bath when beginning the baking with the lower batter layer. After scooping on at least a "safe buffer" amount of the upper batter (but allowing for a safe "anti-spill/carry-back-to-oven" margin from the top of the springform pan) in a comfortable place—and carefully transferring the entire bath assembly back to the oven—I could fill the hot water bath to the max. At that point, I would hopefully also be able to, still with some care (not too fast now!), pour (not scoop at this point) any remaining upper batter to fill the pan, the pitcher being held at its handle at this point by a mitt-covered hand. But would the batter dribble back along the pitcher on me if I poured it too slowly? I would have to be on the lookout for that one.

The other lesson learned was that I had enough leftover eggnog batter for 4 cupcakes.

One particularly surprising outcome was that despite the amount of changes from the previous prototype among the two batters being supposedly very small, the pumpkin batter greatly exceeded the eggnog on this prototype—whereas the opposite was true in the previous prototype. In other words, the shift between the two batter amounts was much more than I expected (I was anticipating a result much closer to a 50/50 split). Better break out the ruler for next time!

This cheesecake fared okay at Living Hope. There was about a quarter of it left. But there were plenty of other refreshments served, particularly pastries, and the crowds were not so big.

While I felt that the taste was good, the cheesecake seemed to be too soft. Cutting this one into wedge-shaped slices resulted in too many messy tips. The eggnog batter in particular was too "mooshy". It wasn't that this layer turned out to be badly unstable. But I felt that in the future I should go back to putting the eggnog layer on the bottom and giving it a lot more baking time (perhaps an hour before scooping on the pumpkin). Other considerations: Increase overall cooking? Increase arrowroot (at least for the eggnog batter)? Use a different stabilizer, such as xanthan gum (after all, the "store bought" cream cheeses seemed to typically include this ingredient, often with guar gum and locust bean gum—but
not arrowroot)?

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