Friday, October 11, 2013


Turtle pumpkin cheesecake

Now, on to this crazy delicious dessert.  Before December hits, I wanted to post one last pumpkin recipe.  I made this turtle pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving and it terrible.  Just kidding.  How could a creamy pumpkin cheesecake combined with all of the deliciousness of turtle-ness be terrible?!  As you can imagine, it was rich, decadent, and over the top.  But it was Thanksgiving and calories didn’t count.  A fun thing about this cheesecake was how it looked pretty impressive and made it appear like I have some serious cheesecake skills.   Here’s a little secret: if you can drizzle chocolate and caramel, you too can make an impressive looking cheesecake.   

Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecake

makes 9″ cheesecake

for the crust:
1 whole package of Oreos
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup caramel sauce, homemade or store-bought

for the cheesecake:
32 ounces (4 8 oz blocks) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice

for the topping: 
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
caramel sauce


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Wrap a 9-inch springform pan with heavy duty foil around the edges.  

To make the crust: pulse Oreos in large food processor or put them in a large plastic baggie and roll them with a rolling pin until fine crumbs.  Add melted butter and mix to combine.  Press into prepared springform pan and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle pecans over crust, then drizzle with caramel sauce.  Set aside and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  

To make the cheesecake:  In large bowl with electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add pumpkin and mix on low.  Scrape down sides as needed.  Then add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides as needed.  

Add heavy cream and vanilla and beat until combined, about 1 minute.  Finally, add the spices and salt and mix well to combine.  Pour batter into prepared crust.  

Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan in which the springform pan will fit and add hot water to pan about halfway up the springform pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes, until the edges are set and the middle still jiggles a little.  Keeping the oven door closed, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake cool in oven for 1 hour.  After an hour, remove from oven and take springform pan out of waterbath and let cool on a wire rack for 2 hours.  Lastly, place in refrigerator and let cool completely for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.  

Once cooled completely, sprinkle pecans on top of cheesecake.  Place semi-sweet chocolate chips in a plastic baggie and microwave in 20 second intervals until melted.  Snip one of the edges off the baggie to drizzle chocolate over pecans.  Then drizzle with caramel sauce to your liking.  Enjoy!  


      Most of us are pretty familiar with carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating, but there are plenty of other Halloween traditions out there. Some of them are from way back when, and some are just from different parts of the world. Either way, maybe you’ll find something new to add to your All Hallows Eve traditions.

1. Stingy Jack.

    Stingy Jack, or “Jack the Smith,” is likely the story that gave us the tradition of carving pumpkins. The tale originates in Ireland, where Stingy Jack boozed his way through villages, begging and manipulating and being basically an all-around loser. The Devil heard of Jack’s shenanigans and decided to put an end to it, but Jack tricked him a couple of times and eventually won the Devil’s assurance that he would never take Jack to Hell. Jack eventually died, but because of his sinful earthly ways, he was denied entrance to Heaven. He tried to get into Hell instead, but of course, the Devil reminded him that this was impossible. Instead, he gave Jack an ember inside of a hollowed-out turnip and made him walk the earth forever, warning people of what could happen to them. Which leads us to another tradition…

2. Carving turnips and rutabagas. 

   Here we carve pumpkins, of course, and it’s catching on around the world. But before we carved pumpkins, the Irish were carving rutabagas, turnips and mangelwurzels thanks to our friend Stingy Jack. When the Irish came to the U.S., these vegetables weren’t nearly as common, and so they adapted the tradition to pumpkins. If you want to try your hand at carving a turnip this year, there are instructions here. It’s pretty much like carving a pumpkin, but smaller and less gooey.


3. If you’re dying to know who you’re going to marry someday, here’s an update on the apple stem twist we used to do as kids (or was that just me?). Unmarried women used to sit in a dark room on Halloween night and look into a mirror. Eventually, their husband’s face would appear in it. If a skull appeared instead, the woman would surely die before she could ever get married. 

4. Guising is what they call trick-or-treating in parts of Scotland and northern England. Unlike here, though, kids who go guising are expected to earn their treats with a song or a card trick, some jokes or a poem. Guising has only been confined to Halloween in relatively recent times – in 1815, one account said that “Gysarts” were allowed to come around every evening from Christmas to “Fasternse’en” (Shrove Tuesday).

5. Dumb Cake

   This was an old tradition during Hop-tu-Naa, a Celtic festival you’d have to specifically go to the Isle of Man to celebrate. Kids trick-or-treat and carry turnip lanterns, but they also sing Hop-tu-Naa songs. And in the old days, they used to have their own fortune-telling traditions. On October 31, young women would bake Dumb Cake over the hearth, including some soot from the fire in with the ingredients. When it was ready, the cake was divided up and eaten in utter silence. Then each girl would apparently walk backward to bed and expect to see her husband-to-be in a dream. There was also a tradition of sweeping ash from the fire over the hearth. In the morning, a footprint in the ash that faced in toward the fireplace indicated a birth ahead. A footprint pointing toward the door meant that someone would die.


6. Barmbrack is another custom from Ireland. It’s a type of bread with raisins in it and can be served year ‘round, but at Halloween, certain objects are baked right into the bread: a pea, a stick, a coin, some cloth, and a ring. Each one carried significance, so if you got the piece with something in it, you would immediately know what your fortune was. The pea means you wouldn’t be getting married in the next year and the ring, of course, meant that you would be. The stick meant an unhappy marriage, the cloth meant bad finances ahead, and the coin meant wealth was headed your way.

7. Coelcerth was actually observed on November 1, but that’s close enough for my purposes. It was part of a tradition of Calan Gaeaf, the first day of winter in Wales. For coelcerth, a family would build a fire and write their names on stones surrounding it. If they woke up in the morning and found that a person’s stone was missing, they knew that person would die in the next year. It seems to me that this would be the perfect opportunity to freak out your siblings…

8. Allantide is a Cornish (as in Cornwall, England) festival celebrated at the same time as Halloween. 

   One the games commonly played worked like this: a cross, laid flat, was suspended from the ceiling, and a candle would be placed at each end. Then apples were hung from the underside of the cross. The game was for children to try to get the apples with their mouths – kind of like bobbing for apples in midair. If they were too slow, the candles dripped hot wax on their faces. Ummm… fun?

9. Soul Cakes. 

   In Britain, and in a similar tradition in Italy, children would go from door to door collecting “soul cakes” from neighbors. Each cake represented a soul, and every time a child ate a cake it was supposed to mean that they had freed someone from Purgatory. As a kid, I would have taken that super literally and would have been concerned about eating someone’s soul.



10. Floured Slugs.

    OK, one more weird wedding game for you. In 19th-century Ireland, women would sprinkle flour on a plate and then drop a slug on it. As the slug wriggled its way across the plate, it would leave a pattern in the flour that was supposed to show them what their husband was going to look like. I suppose it’s kind of like reading tea leaves, but I keep picturing this moment where a women sees the love of her life for the first time from across the room, rushes over to him, takes his face in her hands and passionately cries, “I saw your face in the slug flour!”


With a quick trip to the hardware store and some household appliances on hand, you can create a ghost like illusion as seen in Disney's Haunted Mansion and other amusement park rides.

Things You'll Need

  • Old television set
  • Plexiglass
  • Black curtains


    • 1
      Prepare or purchase a video to use that will that will have the image you wish to project. As with other haunted houses, the popular image to have on tape to project is an individual's head that is either saying something or singing a song. If you choose to video tape yourself for this project, make sure that only your head is visible. You want the rest of your body (shoulders, chest, etc.) to be dark so they are not visible.
    • 2
      Place the video or DVD in the television or the video player that you will be using.
    • 3
      Play the video on the television that you will be using.
    • 4
      Use the contrast buttons or options on your television to make the background of the video as dark as possible and the image that will be projected as bright as possible without actually blurring the image.
    • 5
      Bring the television set with the video, completely ready to play, over to the window where you wish to show the image. More than likely, this will be your front window.
    • 6
      Place the television set upside down under the window so that the screen is pointing towards the ceiling.
    • 7
      Place a table by the window. Positioned it with the head of the table is pointed towards the window, leaving a gap large enough between the window and the table to allow the television's projection to shoot straight up unobstructed. In order, you should have your window, television set, and table lined up in a row with none of these items overlapping, as this will obstruct the projection coming from the television.
    • 8
      Place a piece of plexiglass at a 45-degree angle between the window and on top of the table (the table is specifically used for resting the plexiglass). Make sure that the plexiglass is directly over the television as this will be used to show the ghost projection.
    • 9
      Place dark curtains or any other dark material behind and around the table, television and plexiglass. This will keep any outside light from coming in behind your projection and will allow you to project much brighter.
    • 10
      Turn on the television set and watch your ghost-like illusion project onto the plexiglass.
    • 11
      Adjust the contrast on the television set if needed.