Kabocha Squash Mascarpone Cheesecake

It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered the kabocha squash. I don't know how I missed it! It's the Japanese version of a pumpkin and I adore it. It's super flavor dense with a lovely texture, and it doesn't have as much water as a butternut squash or a pumpkin, so it's excellent for baking. It's also a pretty deep green on the outside and a happy shade of yellow-orange on the inside—just one more reason to love it. I've even heard that in some cultures the kabocha is considered an aphrodisiac. I'll let you decide if that's true or not!
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 4 hr (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings
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Ingredients

Squash Filling:

1/2 medium kabocha squash

Extra virgin olive oil 

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon allspice 

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 

2 cups mascarpone cheese 

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk 

4 large eggs 

2 tablespoons bourbon 

Crust:

2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

Pinch kosher salt 

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 

Directions

  1. For the squash filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Scoop out the seeds and guts from the squash. Cut the squash into thirds and rub each section with olive oil. Place the oiled sections on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven.
  3. Bake the squash for 1 hour, rotating the tray and turning over the squash about halfway
  4. through the cooking time. When done, the squash should be fork tender—a fork should slide in and out easily. Let the squash cool.
  5. While the squash is roasting, prepare the crust: In a large bowl combine the gingersnap crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter. Stir well to combine. Press the crust onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Reserve in the fridge.
  6. When the squash is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and puree the flesh in the food processor until smooth. Add the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger and pulse to combine.
  7. In a large mixing bowl combine the mascarpone, brown sugar, and vanilla and beat with a hand mixer until combined. Beat in the squash mixture along with the condensed milk. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time until combined and whisk in the bourbon.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared crust and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until set in the middle, rotating the pan halfway during the baking time. If the top of the cheesecake starts to brown, tent it with aluminum foil. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool completely before serving. This will be good today—and even better tomorrow.