Pumpkin Cheesecake

*Recipe updated with better pictures and streamlined instructions*

(Also, the primary helper has switched from the oldest to the youngest!)

The first time I made this cheesecake it was for an LSU game… and it was also the day I bought my first LSU shirt. 

I’ve always liked the Tigers — it’s part of living here — but I never attended LSU, and neither did any of my 4 siblings, or my husband, so I never really got around to buying a shirt.  But when we were invited to watch “the game of the century” with some friends (and once, I inadvertently dressed my son in the opposing team’s colors), I decided to go shopping for both of us. That way, no one would make him stand on the porch if LSU happened to get behind.

The Tigers beat Alabama, and the dessert was pretty good, too.

The best part of this cheesecake might be the crust.  When reading over cheesecake recipes (all of which seemed to use a graham cracker crust), I thought, why not ginger snaps?  Same cookie crunch, but lots more fall flavors.

Here’s the recipe (adapted significantly from Smitten Kitchen)
Note: this recipe is not difficult, but it gets lots of bowls dirty… so clear out your dishwasher before you get started.

For the crust:

  • 3/4 cup gingersnap crumbs (20 cookies – Anna’s Ginger Thins are the absolute BEST for this)
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted and cooled butter

For the filling:

  • 3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature (this is very important!)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14 oz) can pumpkin (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 eggs at room temperature

For the topping:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped until stiff peaks form
  • 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar OR 3 tablespoons real maple syrup (did this the last time and it was an amazing change)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger

Procedure:

  • Make the crust: Combine first four ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Add melted butter.  Press into a greased springform pan.
  • Make the filling: Put the cream cheese and sugars in the bowl of a mixer.  Beat on high for 3 – 5 minutes until very smooth.  Add the other ingredients in the order listed, beating well after each addition.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Do not overbeat after adding the eggs.
  • Pour this into the springform pan on top of the crust.  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, then turn off the oven BUT DON’T OPEN it. 
  • Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for at least an hour (I always let mine stay there overnight).  Remove and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Bring to room temperature before serving (and topping). 
  • Make the topping: beat the heavy cream on high until stiff. Add the sugar and spices into the whipped cream, scraping down the bowl frequently. 
  • Either serve alongside the cheesecake in a bowl or pipe on top of the cheesecake (if you are worried about unsightly cracks).

This would be perfect for a different Thanksgiving dessert.  Enjoy!

Also note that the bottom of the springform pan can be placed directly onto a cake pedestal to serve, as shown below!

*I still have trouble with this cake splitting.  I have tried putting a pan of water underneath it in the oven, and decreasing the temperature by 5 – 10 degrees, with occasional success.  Thank goodness for the topping, which hides the cracks!

*A note about ingredients: lots of people ask me about what brands I buy for this cheesecake.  The only ones that seem to make a difference are the gingersnaps (I love Anna’s Ginger Thins) and the cream cheese.  I buy Philadelphia for this.  I think the generic brand has too much water, so it doesn’t have as smooth of a texture. I usually use Libby’s pumpkin; just make sure you buy the plain pumpkin puree, not the pumpkin pie filling.  I also do not toast the pecans first (as I do in most desserts) because they get plenty brown while the cake cooks.  Also, if you do substitute maple syrup for powdered sugar in the topping, make sure to use the real stuff, not maple-flavored corn syrup šŸ™‚  Happy Turkey Day!

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