Pumpkin Cheesecake

Most people, me included, feel pretty passionate about cheesecake.

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I mean it’s the kind of dessert that is delicious when made right, profoundly disappointing when make incorrectly, and unfortunately easy to make wrong

I mean we’ve all heard the horror stories of the overly-dense lumpy cheesecake that stuck to the roof of your mouth for hours afterwards right?

And then there is the dreaded ‘crack.’ You know what I’m talking about – when you pull your cheesecake out of the oven only to discover that the top has fractured and created an ugly and noticeable scar on the top of your painstakingly crafted dessert.

But when it’s done right, when the top doesn’t crack, and the cream-cheese is properly softened and whipped into oblivion to ensure absolutely no lumps get through?

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That’s when the magic really happens.

This pumpkin cheesecake was a part of my thanksgiving ‘quartet’ and while I couldn’t possibly chose a favourite out of the four I made, I can tell you that this is by far the best cheesecake ever.  

Yes it requires you to bake it in a water-bath. And yes, it’s worth it. You know why? Using a water-bath = no cracking (caveat: if you over-bake the cake it will crack no matter what so do pull it out when the centre is still jiggly. It will set as it cools. I promise.).

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But back to the cake: it was light, creamy, delicious, delicately spiced, and elegant. The whipped cream topping served to tie together the crumbly ginger-pecan shortbread crust, and the slightly tangy-sweet filling. An egg-heavy batter that included a 1/2 cup of whipped cream kept the whole thing rich, creamy, smooth, and surprisingly light.

I do mean light in texture. Not in calories. Forget any misguided notion you ever had that cheesecake is a health food.

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So if you’re afraid of cheesecake making, make this one. I promise as long as you follow the directions, and use the dreaded water-bath, it WILL turn out delicious.

And yes, it takes a little bit of time, but it is well worth the effort. A quick note that when I made this I put the cake together on one day, let it sit in the fridge overnight and added the topping the next day, then kept it in the fridge until about an hour before serving it.

Pumpkin Cheesecake (lightly adapted from Sprinkle Bakes)

Ginger-Pecan Crust:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup pecans (1.2 oz.)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup cold butter
1 tablespoon cold water

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a 9-inch springform pan. Properly buttering the edges will ensure you get a proper pan release, so don’t skimp. Wrap the pan in heavy duty aluminum foil, do this or you’ll have water seep into the pan and ruin your crust.
2. Throw flour, brown sugar, salt, pecans, and ginger into a food processor and process until pecans form crumbs.
3. Add in cold butter and process until crumbs form.
4. Add the water and process in short bursts until the dough starts to come together.
5. Press into the bottom of the spring-form and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Pumpkin Filling:
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 lbs (20 oz, or 2 1/2 eight oz. bricks) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 large eggs

1. Turn down heat on the oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a small bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger ,and salt.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is creamy (depending on how warm your cream cheese is this will take 2-4 minutes, the goal is to beat out any and all of those pesky lumps).

4. Add the sugars gradually and beat until combined.

5. Add the pumpkin mixture and beat until batter is uniform.

6. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until incorporated into the rest of the batter.

7. Using a rubber spatula pour the cheesecake filling into the cooled spring-form over the crust. Place the pan into a large baking dish filled with water so it comes about 1-inch up the sides of the springform. Bake for 70-80 minutes or until the sides are set and the centre of the cake still jiggles. Cool completely, it will set as it cools.

Whipped Cream Topping:

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup of sugar

1. Whip the cream in the bowl of a standing mixer until it thickens.

2. Add the sugar in gradually, beating the sugar and cream until stiff-peaks form.

3. Spread over the top of the cake and pipe the extra whipped cream into decorative swirls.

Keep cake in the fridge until ready to serve.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Pumpkin Cheesecake

  1. I love pumpkin cheesecake! I have a question, though. If you make cheesecake in a water bath, you can’t use a springform pan, right? so then what kind of pan do you use, and how do you get the cheesecake out? Thus far I’ve always just lived with the cracks in all my cheesecakes.

    • Mai

      There’s a part in there about wrapping the springform in aluminum foil. Use the heavy duty stuff, it’ll fit around a springform with no seams. Keeps water from leaking in. Will change your life. Promise.

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