Pumpkin Cheesecake

Most people think of pumpkin pie when they think of Thanksgiving, and I did too. But after I started making cheesecakes my mind shifted to craving pumpkin cheesecake as Thanksgiving gets closer. My birthday is on November 28, so I’m one of those lucky people whose birthday falls on Thanksgiving every so often. This year, even though my birthday was on Saturday, I figured it would take my lil’ family of four at least that long to eat a cheesecake we started on Thanksgiving. So we had cheesecake for Thanksgiving AND my birthday and every night in between.

Actually this is the second cheesecake I made the week of Thanksgiving. The night before the big day I tried a recipe that I had used in the past and followed the directions exactly even as I questioned them. Should I really use my smallest springform pan? That’s what it calls for. It really says it will cook in only an hour at 350? That’s what it says. Sad thing guys. It didn’t cook well. I ended up burning the bottom because the middle never set. Thanksgiving morning I pulled out the burnt cheesecake from our fridge and tried to decide if I felt guilty enough about wasting food that we eat it or if I should make a new one since I don’t make cheesecake very often AND it was Thanksgiving AND this was going to double as my birthday cake. After staring at it for a while I did the only thing I could think of in a moment of crisis. I called my sister. She gave me permission to make a new one so the first went straight into the trash.

“Why didn’t you trust yourself?” my husband asked later. “You know how to make cheesecake.”

“I was trying to follow the recipe. It had worked for other people.”

“Well, this is good. Now you can make it exactly the way you want it.” His encouragement was sweet and it was just what I needed. This recipe is all mine. There are ginger snaps in with the graham cracker crust to add extra fall flavor. There are more spices than typical because that’s how we roll. I use the largest springform pan I have because cheesecake is rich, and we don’t need a super tall serving. Also, it cooks better! I cook mine low and slow in the oven and then wait even longer for it to come to room temperature before putting it in the fridge to avoid cracking and unwanted condensation. Cheesecakes always take a while so if I’m going to go through all those steps I want it to be worth it. This totally is!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (12 full sheets-1 package plus 3)
  • ¼ cup (heaping) ginger snap crumbs (6 cookies crushed)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick salted butter, melted

Filling

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs (at room temperature)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Crust

  • Fill an oven safe bowl or cooking pan halfway with water and place in oven. The moisture will help prevent your cheesecake from cracking. Check to make sure it will fit alongside whatever baking sheet you plan to put your cheesecake on.
  • Preheat oven to 350 °F
  • Pulse graham crackers and ginger snaps in a food processor until crumbs. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. Blend until well mixed and resembles sandy beaches.
  • Press into 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.

Filling

  • Beat cream cheese until smooth
  • Add pumpkin purée, sour cream, sugar, spices, flour and vanilla
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each
  • Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula and beat again for good measure
  • Pour into crust. Be careful if using a spatula not to scrape the sides. Sometimes there’s still extra cream cheese that hasn’t been incorporated well, so I’d resist adding EVERYTHING to the crust and just let your family lick the bowl. That way you’re avoiding small “chunks.”
  • Place your cheesecake on a baking sheet because the butter from the crust is bound to make a mess. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • After 15 minutes turn the oven down to 250 degrees and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Mine took an hour and fifteen minutes. You know when your cheesecake is done if when you shake it a bit it jiggles slightly in the middle while the edges look done.
  • Turn off the oven, but allow cheesecake to cool in the oven for another hour.
  • Take cheesecake out of the oven and allow to come to room temperature before covering and refrigerating. If it’s warm at all, moisture will accumulate on your plastic wrap and end up on the cake.
  • Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight
  • Serve with whip cream and half a ginger snap (optional)

Recipe by Life’s Sweet Seasons

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