Pumpkin Cheesecake

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PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE. It ticks all the important boxes:

√ It’s easy.
√ It’s impressive.
√ It’s pumpkin-y.

Count me in. I took this to a fall get-together last weekend. When I opened the cake holder to reveal this glorious dessert, I was asked, “Now what is that?” When I responded, “Pumpkin Cheesecake,” I received a coveted response:

“Oooooooooh.”

And that makes my heart happy. I don’t know why, but it sure does. Nothing better than cooking for people who love what you make.

“You MADE that?”

Then the sudden shyness takes over and I just nod and smile.

Because I am (typically) not one to gloat and brag. (I am the wallflower, the introvert, who wants to quietly please your taste buds.) And although this pumpkin cheesecake looks like something masterful, something skillful, something hard… it’s totally not.

Read on.

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Grab some gingersnaps and some pecans. Toast up the pecans for dynamite flavor (5-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven should do the trick).

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Grind up the gingersnaps and pecans with a food processor. Toss crumbs in a bowl with melted butter and brown sugar. Mix well, then press crumbs into the bottom and roughly halfway up the sides of a 10″ springform pan.

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Time to fill this puppy. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, combine cream cheese, eggs and sugar. Mix at medium speed for 8 minutes. If you’d like to use some of the filling as a topping, feel free. Just reserve 3/4 cup of the filling at this point, and store in the fridge. To the remaining filling still in your mixing bowl, add the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, cinnamon and allspice. Beat for 1-2 more minutes at medium speed, or until combined. Pour into your prepared crust.

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Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. You know it’s done when the cheesecake puffs, the top browns, and the center moves just a little when jiggled (but is not liquid). You can also use a food thermometer to test the internal temperature, which should be around 155 degrees when done. (Note: If you removed 3/4 cup of the filling to use as topping, your pumpkin cheesecake won’t need to bake quite as long. Start checking after 1 hour. After baking, place cheesecake on a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, use a knife to cut between the edge of the pan and the crust of the cheesecake to loosen the cake. Let cheesecake cool completely on the rack (this may take a few hours).

After cheesecake has cooled, release the edges of the springform pan. Refrigerate cheesecake for several hours, or overnight, for best flavor and texture. Spread topping over cheesecake, if desired, before serving.

And yes, I know that my cheesecake cracked. I hear cooking your cheesecake in a water bath will help your cheesecake not crack. And honestly, I’ve just never wanted to mess with potential water bath leaks, so I’ve never tried it. If you have, let me know how it works for you.

Another reason the cracks don’t cause me to crack: If I’m using the reserved filling as a topping, no one sees the cracks anyway! Woo hoo!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Adapted from "Frank Stitt's Southern Table" by Frank Stitt

Ingredients

  • (Original recipe from Frank Stitt)
  • Crust:
  • 30 gingersnaps (to yield 1 1/2 c. crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup pecans (whole, chopped or pieces will all work)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • Filling:
  • 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (canned)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice

Instructions

  1. Toast the pecans: Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread pecans on parchment paper. Bake in a preheated oven for 5 minutes.
  2. Prepare the crust: Finely grind the gingersnaps and the toasted pecans in a food processor. Pour the crumbs into a bowl. Add brown sugar and melted butter. Stir until evenly incorporated. Press crumbs into the bottom and roughly halfway up the sides of a 10" springform pan. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the filling: Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, blend softened cream cheese, eggs and sugar at medium speed for 8 minutes.
  4. OPTIONAL STEP: You can use a small amount of the filling as a topping for the finished cheesecake. If you would like to do this, remove 3/4 cup of the filling from the mixing bowl. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  5. Add the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, cinnamon and ground allspice to the mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until well combined (1-2 minutes). Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
  6. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. The cheesecake is done when the cheesecake puffs, the top browns, and the center moves just a little when jiggled (but is not liquid). You can also use a food thermometer to test the internal temperature, which should be around 155 degrees when done. (Note: If you removed 3/4 cup of the filling to use as topping, your cheesecake won't need to bake quite as long. Start checking after 1 hour.)
  7. Place cheesecake on a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, use a knife to cut between the edge of the pan and the crust of the cheesecake to loosen the cake. Let cheesecake cool completely on the rack (this may take a few hours).
  8. After cheesecake has cooled, release the edges of the springform pan. Refrigerate cheesecake for several hours, or overnight, for best flavor and texture. Spread topping over cheesecake, if desired, before serving.
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