I’m something of an addict when it comes to food magazines, especially around this time of year when all the holiday themed recipes begin making an appearance. The November issue of Bon Appetit proved particularly irresistible this past Saturday afternoon, when it arrived in my mailbox filled with tempting visions of pumpkin brulee, pumpkin butterscotch pie and pumpkin trifle. Yet of all these mouthwatering morsels, one reigned supreme: the pumpkin cheesecake. Its gingersnap cookie, pecan and brown sugar crust was too much to resist, to say nothing of its filling, which was spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and vanilla. Yes. Please.
As luck would have it, I was in the middle of making the menu for this week. So I added all the ingredients to our grocery list, then on Monday evening my husband and I put the cheesecake together, reveling in the promise of homemade pumpkin decadence. This was, I must tell you, my first experience making cheesecake – and the end result was so satisfying that I think many more cheesecakes will be appearing in our kitchen. The cheesecake was surprisingly easy to make, and although I was a little shocked by how much the filling rose in the oven, in the end it all turned out well. After cooling on the counter for an hour, then overnight in the refrigerator, the filling condensed into the mouthwatering delight you see pictured here. Because its so dense, this is an example of a “New York” style cheesecake. Other variations include the “French” cheesecake, which is whipped and light, and the “Italian” cheesecake, which is made with ricotta instead of cream cheese.
We skipped the marshmallow-sour cream topping that’s supposed to go on top of the custard, opting instead for whipped cream. Also, a few helpful hints: when adding the crust to your pan, fill a small glass (no handle) with coins and use it to gently press the crust onto the bottom and sides, allowing the weight from the coins to do the work for you. Later, when making the custard, add the pumpkin puree to your mixing bowl before the cream cheese, thereby preventing the cream cheese from sticking to the sides of the bowl. After the cheesecake has cooled overnight, cover it with saran wrap. You can also freeze cheesecakes for up to 1 month if you carefully wrap them first in saran wrap, then in tin foil.
That’s all for now but be prepared for more cheesecake in the future! Now that I’ve made one I plan to experiment with ingredients and techniques – beginning with a visit to the Cheesecake Factory this weekend. One must do proper research, after all.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
From Bon Appetit Magazine, November 2008. Click here for instructions on adding the marshmallow-sour cream topping, which we skipped. Because the cheesecake needs to chill overnight, be sure to make this one day ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator.
Ingredients: Makes 12 servings
- For crust:
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 9 ounces)
- 1 cup pecans (about 3 1/2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
- 5 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Grind cookie crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, and ginger in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter; using on/off turns, process to blend. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; press onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of pan. Bake crust until set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool completely.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in pumpkin. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating on low speed to incorporate each addition. Add flour, spices, and salt; beat just to blend. Beat in vanilla. Transfer filling to cooled crust. Bake until filling is just set in center and edges begin to crack (filling will move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool 1 hour. Run knife around sides of pan to release crust. Chill cheesecake uncovered in pan overnight.