Beth Ann Rife’s pumpkin swirl cheesecake is so good it should be displayed on a gold platter, behind a
big plate glass window with tasseled curtains.
Rife’s sister-in-law, Doris Herringshaw, who happens to be Wood County’s OSU Extension agent, describes
it as a "to die for" pumpkin cheesecake. She ought to know.
The triple-layered dessert is beautiful to look at and tastes like creamy perfection.
"Flavor wise, the pumpkin cheesecake is not overwhelming, not over-rich," Rife noted.
She’s had the recipe for probably 15 years now.
"It was in a magazine. In fact I think it was a Good Housekeeping."
It caught her eye because it was something out of the ordinary.
In our household we really do not have desserts that often. So I look for desserts that are
Unlike most women, "I do not like chocolate. I do like pumpkin. And I like cheesecake."
She decided to try the pumpkin swirl as a treat for her co-workers.
"At that time I was at HCR Manor Care" in Perrysburg.
"They commented on the presentation and said it looks like it comes out of a store. It looks
complicated, but it’s easy to do."
While it’s a lengthy-looking recipe, she insists the cheesecake is simple.
"Prep time is probably a half an hour, not counting time it takes to get the cream cheese up to room
temperature. This is a recipe where I get everything out ahead of time"
to simplify the task.
For the past two and a half years she’s been a business analyst in human resources at Bowling Green State
University. Her current co-workers have also been treated to her culinary gifts.
"I do things like this cheesecake. I’d bake bread. I have a sweet almond twist bread that I found;
I’d make that and bring it in around the holidays. And that was a favorite."
She grew up on the Rudolph-Portage area Herringshaw farm, the youngest of five siblings.
"There were two girls on either end and three boys in between. I was the tomboy. I would rather have
been in the barn with my horses."
Nevertheless, Rife credits her mother with teaching her how to cook and to bake pies and cookies.
"She is the one who taught me to bake bread and I still enjoy that. In high school, there would be
some evenings that I would be responsible for starting supper for her before she got home from work. She
gave me a great foundation.
"One thing the women in our family like to give as gifts is cookbooks. About 30 years ago my mom
gave me a Betty Crocker cookbook. I still use it."
And she’s still on the lookout for those recipes that are little different.
Another recipe that sister-in-law Doris greatly admires is her Super-stuffed Mushrooms.
"It calls for fresh mushrooms; you don’t cook the mushrooms.
"I also do a white chocolate peppermint and a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. For Cinco de
Mayo I have a tequila cheesecake I do. It’s made from condensed milk, egg whites and then egg yolks,
lime, and tequila, pine nuts and pecans or walnuts or even graham crackers and of course butter. It’s
rich. It is rich.
"If I went to a restaurant, that is what I would order, or a pumpkin. A turtle is too much!
With all the Halloween pumpkins out there now, it’s a wonderful time to whip up a pumpkin swirl
cheesecake – particularly if you happen to be invited to a Halloween party this weekend.
Rife cautions that the cheesecake is somewhat prone to cracking. "If that’s going to happen, it
starts while it’s still in the oven – when it’s sitting in the oven that one hour, when the oven’s off.
So some cooks might want to run a knife around the edge of the pan so it’s not being pulled on so
Rife’s niece Sarah, a Cook’s Corner alum and OSU graduate in food sciences who works for General Mills in
Minneapolis, asks for it every year at Thanksgiving.
While traditionalists might want pumpkin pie, "she wants the cheesecake. So I make both.
"Doris has Thanksgiving at her house but I’m usually responsible for the desserts."
With all this talk about desserts, it’s nice to see that Rife is still slim and trim.
"I run for a hobby; I’ve run five marathons in my life" and been active in the Toledo Road
Runners Club, she explained. "Now I just run to stay in shape, release stress" – and work off
8 cinnamon graham crackers (each 5- by 2 ½-inch) or 1 cup graham-cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons margarine or butter (1/4 sticker, melted)
8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brandy
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin-pie mix)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
8-oz. container sour cream
In food processor with knife blade attached or in blender at medium speed, blend graham crackers until
fine crumbs form.
Preheat oven to 3250 F.
In 9-by-3-inch springform pan, with fork, stir graham cracker crumbs and melted margarine or butter until
moistened. With hand, press mixture onto bottom of pan.
Bake crust 10 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese until smooth; slowly beat in
With mixer at low speed, beat in brandy, vanilla extract, and eggs just until blended, scraping bowl
often with rubber spatula.
In medium bowl, mix pumpkin, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.
Stir half of cream-cheese mixture into pumpkin mixture until blended.
Stir sour cream into remaining cream-cheese mixture.
Reserve ½ cup pumpkin mixture.
Pour remaining pumpkin mixture onto graham-cracker crust.
Carefully pour cream-crease mixture on top of pumpkin layer.
Spoon dollops of reserved pumpkin mixture onto cream-cheese layer.
With knife, cut and twist through cream-cheese layer to obtain swirl effect.
Bake cheesecake 1 hour.
Turn off oven; let cheese cake remain in oven 1 hour longer.
Remove cheesecake from oven.
With small knife, loose cheese-cake from side of pan to help prevent cracking during cooling.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Cover and refrigerate cheesecake at least 6 hours or overnight until well chilled.
Remove side of pan to serve.
Makes 16 servings.