Friday, September 17, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Well, yet again, despite my best intentions, the vegan experiment did not last. I may settle for being mostly-vegetarian.

*big sigh*

Anyway, in honor of my birthday yesterday (huzzah) I decided to go whole-hog and bake myself a cheesecake. If you can't have a full-fat, sugar-laden cheesecake on your birthday, then life might not be worth living. I asked my kids what flavor cheesecake they wanted me to make, and the vote was unanimous: Pumpkin.

I've been making this highly-spiced pumpkin cheesecake for years now, and it always comes out thick, rich and creamy. I like my pumpkin pies and pumpkin cheesecakes to have a strong hint of spices, so I love the addition of cloves and allspice to the spice mixture. Of course, if you like your pumpkin pie spice blend, then go for it and use that instead.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake


  • 4 cups gingersnaps
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree - canned or fresh*
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 whole cloves, ground to a powder ( 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 6 allspice berries, ground to a powder (1/4 teaspoon allspice power)
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

  1. Line a 9 inch springform pan with buttered parchment paper. Put an oven rack in the middle position in the oven and preheat to 350°F.

  2. Place gingersnaps and pecans in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is pulverized nicely.

  3. Place the crumb mixture and the brown sugar in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and mix together until combined well. It will be dark and moist and stick together nicely. If it is too crumbly and does not stick together, add more melted butter.

  4. Press the crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1 inch up the side of pan. You may have extra crumb mixture which you can sprinkle over the top of the cheesecake when serving. Or, you could eat it in great heaping handfuls while the cheesecake bakes. It's up to you.

  5. Whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, cream, vanilla and bourbon in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Add the spices to the mixture and taste to adjust seasoning.

  6. Add the eggs and mix well.

  7. Stir together the sugar, cornstarch in large mixing bowl. I use the mixing bowl of my stand mixer.

  8. Add the softened cream cheese and beat with the flat beater of an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 5 minutes.

  9. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth, another 3 minutes.

  10. Pour filling into crust, smoothing the top, then put the springform pan on a shallow baking sheet in case the pan leaks.

  11. Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle in the center when you take it out. Don't worry, it will firm up and set as it cools. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes.

  12. Cool the cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 2 hours. Then, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
  • I like to make my own pumpkin puree from sugar pumpkins. It is very easy to do:
  • Cut a baking pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds and stringy fibers. Then place, cut side down in a baking dish and roast for 45-50 minutes at 400°F. Let the pumpkin cool, and then scrape out the flesh into a food processor, puree and then use as you would canned pumpkin. If the pumpkin is especially watery, I'd strain out the excess water with a cheesecloth.
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