Friday, November 9, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is in less than 2 weeks!  I think it is coming on me fast because for the first time I'm having a pretty big group over here for the big day.  I'm looking forward to celebrating with friends and family and eating lots of holiday favorites.

My menu is in the works already of course.  I am doing my best to follow the cooking rule I almost never follow:  "Thou shall not try out a new recipe on a crowd".  With that in mind I decided to try this Pumpkin Cheesecake last week to make sure it was T-Day worthy.  And believe me, it is.

I really love pumpkin and pumpkin pie is great but I had my heart set on making a "different" pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving.  I realize cheesecake isn't all that radical but it is a nice twist on the classic pumpkin pie.  The cheesecake has plenty of pumpkin flavor and it is fairly light and fluffy.  It is a cheesecake you can actually eat more than a bite of....definitely more than a few bites! :)  The crust is made from gingersnap cookies and it was so good Mr Pears suggested I make it a bit thicker next time, so I've altered the recipe to reflect that.

image from Food 

Pumpkin Cheesecake, adapted from Gina Neely

45 gingersnap cookies (I used Mi-Del gingersnaps from Whole Foods, they are about 1.5 inches, round)
6 tablespoons butter, melted

4 (8oz ) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree
5 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350F.  To make the crust, finely grind the cookies in your food processor.  In a small bowl mix them with the melted butter.   Pour the crumbs into a 9 inch springform pan (3 inches deep) and then press them evenly into the bottom.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool while you make the filling.

First put a pot or tea kettle of water on the stove to boil.  Next put the beat the cream cheese and sugar together in your mixer until it is fluffy, at least 2 minutes.  Add the pumpkin and mix until fully incorporated, then add the eggs one by one mixing after each addition.  Add in the spices and vanilla and mix.  Lastly add the flour and mix a final time until everything is evenly combined.

Wrap aluminum foil around the bottom and sides of the cooled springform pan.  I would suggest using two layers because you don't want the water to seep in.  Pour the filling into the pan.  Place the pan into a roasting pan and pour the hot water in around the cake.  You want enough water so that water reaches about half way up the sides of the cake pan.

Transfer the roasting pan carefully into the oven and bake for 1 hour 20-30 minutes.   Mine took the whole hour and a half.  The cake should be set on top but a little jiggly when you shake it lightly.

Remove the cake from the water bath and set it on a wire rack to cool.  When cooled, use a knife to loosen the sides and remove the springform pan.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  (This is a great to make the day before!)

Serve with homemade whipped cream.  I love my plain sweetened whipped cream but this time I'm going to add a dash of bourbon a la Emeril, yum!

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