**Pumpkin, Butternut or other types of winter squashes are not often grown in the most southern areas of Florida since the weather remains quite warm all year round. A bit northward the central regions of Florida do offer a more temperate weather pattern where these hard skinned varieties do very well when planted in the fall season as the intense summer heat begins to recede. Winter squashes take much longer to mature than their soft skinned cousins, usually four months or longer, so they are often found in local markets in Central and Southern Florida between April and June. Once harvested hard skin squashes need a 2 or 3 week curing period where the fruit can rest in a dry environment where the temperature holds between 70 and 80 degrees (your kitchen counter is a perfect location for this rest period.) During this curing time the complex starches of the fruit break down into more simple sugars and water offering a creamy and sweet texture to the interior flesh. After the curing period winter squash can be consumed right away or held for up to 6 months longer in a cooler, but still dry, environment.
8 ounces Gingersnap Cookies
4 Tb (2 ounces) Butter, melted
In the large bowl of a food processor crush the cookies to a fine crumble. With the motor running slowly pour in the melted butter. Transfer the crust mixture to the bottom of the springform pan. Press the crust out to make an even layer covering only the bottom of the pan; pack down the crust tightly so that the final cheesecake holds together well. Place the springform pan onto a baking sheet pan; this second pan will catch any butter or batter that might seep out of the springform pan during the baking time.
Wipe out the food processor to remove any crumbs.
14 ounces (2 cups) Roasted Butternut or Kuri Squash (skin removed)
1 pound Cream Cheese, at room temperature
½ cup Sugar
¼ cup Brown Sugar
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
½ tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Vanilla Paste
Preheat the oven to 375F on the Baking setting; do NOT use convection setting for this recipe.
In the food processor combine the squash, cream cheese, sugar and brown sugar. Process the mixture for 2 minutes to blend everything together smoothly. Add the remaining ingredients and process for another minute. Remove the top and use a spatula to scrap down the sides of the processor in case any small pieces of squash or cream cheese have not been incorporated into the mixture. Run the processor for 15 seconds longer for a final blend. Pour the batter into the springform pan.
Place the baking sheet pan, with the batter filled springform pan on it, into the oven. Bake the cheesecake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is set around the sides and the center is still just a bit wiggly. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour; move to the refrigerator and chill at least 4 hours before unmolding the cheesecake for serving.