The Pumpkin Cheesecake Debacle

Pumpkin Cheesecake Fail

Well, it finally happened. The dizziness got the best of me.

Back in June, on my sister Rosie’s birthday, I promised her a pumpkin cheesecake, but she was away all summer and we couldn’t work out the details of making it and getting it to her.  She’s back in Manhattan for a few days before heading back to Oberlin, so we finally figured out the logistics and last night I got to work.

Since it’s a birthday present, it needed to be special and particularly indulgent. In search of a recipe, I went right to Paula Deen circa 2007, back when she was still all about the butter.

It started with the crust: graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon

See that tiny hand in the bottom right corner? That’s Juliet’s. She helped.

This is Juliet, helping me with the melted butter. A whole stick of it.

Juliet's hand

pouring butter

I felt like I needed more butter to keep it all held together, but I figured that if Paula Deen said it was enough butter, it had to be enough. She’s not exactly known for holding back on the butter, especially back in 2007.

Juliet and I poured the mixture into a springform pan.

pouring crust into pan

I used the bottom of a measuring cup to push the crumbs into place. Then Juliet went off to watch Thomas the Tank Engine, and I worked on the filling.

The recipe said to beat the cream cheese until smooth, which was a very strange instruction. Cream cheese is already smooth! I beat it anyway.

smooth cream cheese

I added in 3 eggs, one yolk, pumpkin, and sour cream. This is where things went completely wrong, although I didn’t know it yet. I added the spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. For good measure, I threw in some pumpkin pie spice too.Things got very messy, but I thought I still had them under control. (I was wrong.)

pumpkin and cream cheese

I got the mixer going, and things started to look better. (Looks can be deceiving.)

all mixed

Then I added the flour (only a few tablespoons, and vanilla.

flour and vanilla

Once that was properly mixed, I retrieved the pan with the crust in it.


I poured the mixture in. I thought it smelled good. It probably did.

poured into crust

For some reason, I didn’t taste the batter. I wish I had. I usually do.

I put it in the oven and let it bake for an hour. I took it out, let it cool for 15 minutes, then covered it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. I was done! I texted Rosie to tell her.

Then I sat down to continue my Downton Abbey marathon. And started blogging. It was slow going, as the show is pretty engaging. I usually keep the page with the recipe open as a reference, and after I typed this part,

I added in 3 eggs, one yolk, pumpkin, and sour cream.

I noticed something. Something terrible. The recipe said,

Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices.

I read it again.

Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices.

Notice anything? Probably not. But I did.



I don’t remember adding any sugar. I remember putting brown sugar in the crust, but white sugar? In the bowl? With the pumpkin?



I texted Rosie in shame. I told Dave what happened. I grieved for the poor cheesecake and all its wasted ingredients, and its lost potential. I watched more Downton Abbey, which, thematically, included the “salty pudding” episode.  I ate some peanut butter in secret shame.

I’m so embarrassed.

Poor Rosie. She was gracious and lovely about it, of course, because she’s a wonderful person. She’s so wonderful she deserves a f-ing cheesecake! Sadly, she’s not getting one this time. I promised her one the next time she comes back from school for a visit.

I should probably give her two.

Should YOU wish to make a pumpkin cheesecake, don’t follow my instructions, but do head straight to Paula Deen.


And I will try not to take on more complex baking tasks until my doctor gets back to me about the dizziness.


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