Pumpkin Cheesecake

I’m trying to get our Thanksgiving menu blogged as much as I can. And by that I mean, what I managed to get pictures of. Which unfortunately, wasn’t everything.  Meet the second of our two desserts!

This was pronounced by more than one person as “the best cheesecake I’ve ever tasted.” The pumpkin flavor was deep and rich, but not at all too sweet or cloying. The texture was what really put it over the top, though. It was just perfect. I do not care for cheesecake that is too thick or too chewy. I don’t like to feel like I’m cutting through mildly softened butter or cream cheese. Cheesecake should have its own unique texture. It should be soft, rich and creamy with a slight crunch of the cookie crust. This one most assuredly lives up to its billing. Thank you for the terrific instructions, Fine Cooking magazine!

It can be tough to determine exactly when cheesecake is done, because ideally you want to pull it out of the oven before it’s completely done and let it finish via carryover cooking. So it can be hard to know exactly when it’s too soon to take it out. I’ve figured out that cheesecake is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 165 F. So take your cheesecake out when the temperature reads 155 F. Only for best results, you don’t actually take the cake out of the oven. You just shut the oven off, then leave the cake in the oven with the door left ajar for one hour. This way, the carryover cooking finishes the cheesecake gently, and this lessens any chances of the dreaded cheesecake cracks.

So go and make this before the holiday season is up! You’ll love it and your guests will go crazy for it.

Source: adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, April/May 2010

2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
3 tbs granulate sugar
7 tbs unsalted butter, melted
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling
2 tbs flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 375 F.
In a medium bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs and sugar. Mix in the melted butter with a rubber spatula until the crumbs are evenly moistened and clump together slightly.
Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides. I like to use a flat-bottomed drinking glass for this.
Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a cooling rack.
Lower the oven temperature to 325 F.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, pumpkin, flour and salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese has no lumps. Add the sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth.
Add the vanilla and all the spices. Beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just blended. Be careful not to overbeat or the cheesecake will puff too much and crack as it cools.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.
Place aluminum foil in the bottom of a baking dish or roasting pan. You want enough foil to cover the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Place the cheesecake pan in the middle of the foil and gather the foil up and around the sides of the pan, but do not actually cover the top of the cheesecake. Trim as necessary. Make sure the foil is tightly fitting the pan.
Carefully pour hot water into the roasting pan so that it comes up barely halfway around the springform pan. Now very cautiously transfer the entire thing into the oven, being very careful not to slosh.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the cheesecake reads 155 F. When it’s done baking, shut off the oven, leave the cheesecake in the oven and leave the oven door ajar for 60 minutes. Carefully remove the cake, remove the foil and let cool completely on the counter on a cooling rack or trivet. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
Note: If you are worried about any water having seeped under your foil lining, you can remove the cheesecake from the water bath before letting it sit in the oven for the one hour.

3 responses to “Pumpkin Cheesecake

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