Monday, November 23, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cheesecake

I love cheesecake - I think most people do. I have a terrific recipe for pumpkin cheesecake and I rarely get the option to make it. I could probably make it on Thanksgiving but I have a hard time making things that are not the traditional recipes on that occasion. We had company over last Friday so I decided to take the opportunity to make the pumpkin cheesecake.
I don't watch movies more than once, I don't travel to the same location twice, and I don't make the same recipe twice. I have made this recipe in the past and I am making it again so you know I think it is good. if I make a recipe more than once you know it is good. This cheesecake is creamy and rich and has just the right spices. Even the graham cracker crust is spiced. The topping is probably unnecessary but it is very nice. I made it without the bourbon this time and it is still very good without the alcohol.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
Serves 12 to 16


  • 9 whole graham crackers, (5 ounces), broken into large pieces
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-1/3 cups (10-1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. 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.
  3. Turn crumbs into prepared spring-form pan and spread the crumbs into an even layer. Using the bottom of a ramekin, 1 cup measuring cup, or drinking glass, press the crumbs into the bottom of the spring-form pan. Press the crumbs as far as possible into the edges of the pan. Using a teaspoon, neatly press the crumbs into the corners of the pan to create a clean edge.
  4. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool 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 spring-form pan in a roasting pan.
  1. Bring about 4 quarts water to a simmer in stockpot. While the crust is cooking, whisk the sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside.
  2. 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 are saturated. Peel back the top layer of towels and discard. Grasp bottom towels and fold the pumpkin in half; peel back the towels. Repeat and flip the pumpkin onto the baking sheet; discard the towels.
  3. Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer set at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater 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 the remaining sugar in two additions, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add the remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give a final stir by hand.
  4. Pour the filling into a spring-form pan and smooth the surface; set the roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of spring-form pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken, and the center of the cake reads 150 degrees 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 spring-form 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.
  5. To serve, 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 serving platter. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Editors' notes: Depending on the oven and the temperature of the ingredients, the cheesecake may bake about 15 minutes faster or slower than the instructions indicate; it is therefore best to check the cake 1 1/4 hours into baking. Although the cheesecake can be made up to three days in advance, the crust will begin to lose its crispness after only one day. To make slicing the cheesecake easy and neat, use a knife with a narrow blade, such as a carving knife; between cuts, dip the blade into a pitcher of hot water and wipe it clean with paper towels.

Brown Sugar and Bourbon Cream
Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon
  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, brown sugar, and salt until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve the cheesecake, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours, stirring once or twice during chilling to ensure that the sugar dissolves.
  2. When ready to serve the cheesecake, add the bourbon and beat the mixture until small bubbles form around the edge, about 40 seconds; increase speed to high and continue to beat until fluffy and doubled in volume, about 1 minute longer. Spoon the cream onto individual slices of cheesecake.

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