I love fall desserts and Thanksgiving is a great time to sample a little taste of each kind. You’ve got apple pies, pumpkin pies, chocolate pies, etc. I’m a huge fan of cheesecake, but no one in my household cares for them so I try to utilize larger family functions and make something I love and can have a taste in hopes that at least a few others will enjoy it as well!
If you were following me last year, you may remember we never made it to the family Thanksgiving dinner. My daughter got sick and we whipped up a quick feast at home. Since my husband doesn’t enjoy cheesecake and that was the only dessert we had on hand, we made a quick apple pie. He had his pie and I had my cheesecake. We may have eaten a lot of dessert that weekend! The good thing is cheesecake does freeze well!
Since this was my first foray into baking a pumpkin cheesecake and it was for family, the stakes were high. I decided to go with a reputable recipe that didn’t let me down. This recipe is long, but filled with tips that will give you a no fail cheesecake that will be show worthy. When it comes to cheesecakes, chilling is the most important part. Don’t skip it! This is the difference between a beautiful, tall cheesecake and one that falls flat. Using a water bath is always a big conversation when it comes to making cheesecakes. I use one, as does this recipe, because it creates moisture which keeps the top flat and prevents it from cracking. Because of oven temperature differences, check the cake at about 1 1/4 hours for doneness.
Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
For the crust:
- 9 whole graham crackers (5 ounces) broken into large pieces
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 1 1/3 cup (10 1/3 ounces) sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 pounds )three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp juice from 1 lemon
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup heavy cream
For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and head the oven to 325 F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Place the crackers, sugar, and spices in a food processor and process until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl, drizzle the melted butter over, and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn the crumbs into the prepared springform pan and spread the crumbs into an even layer, using a flat bottomed cup. Use the curved edge of a spoon to seal down the crumbs in the edges.
Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cook on a wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes. When cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two 18-inch-square pieces of heavy-duty foil; set the springform pan in a roasting pan.
For the filling:
Bring about 4 quarts water to a simmer in a stockpot. While the crust is cooling, whisk the sugar, spices, and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin on the towels and cover with a second triple layer of towels. Press firmly until the towels and discard. Grasp the bottom towels and fold the pumpkin in half; peel back the towels. Repeat and flip the pumpkin onto the baking sheet; discard the towels.
Beat the cream cheese in a bowl of a stand mixer set a medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Spate the beat and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula. Add about a third of the sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and bet at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add 3 of the eggs and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give a final stir by hand.
Pour the filling into the springform pan and smooth the surface; set the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough of the boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the center of the cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken and the center of the cake reads 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Set the roasting pan on a wire rack and cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and set on a wire rack; run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake and cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
Remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the pan bottom to loosen, then slide the cake onto a serving platter. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.
Serves 12 to 16
Source: Baking Illustrated