If you have room on your Thanksgiving buffet after all the desserts I just share with you, then here is one more the add to your list. It tasted just like pumpkin pie, but lighter and fluffier. But you know what the best part is? The gingerbread cookie crust!
Many people avoid cheesecakes because they think they are hard to make. That is simply not true. If you have had any success at all with baking, you can make a cheesecake with no problem. Here are a few tips to ensure that your cheesecake baking endeavors produce the best looking (and tasting) results.
One common complaint it cracking. Have you ever pulled a perfect cheesecake from the oven only to come back later to discover a huge crack in the center? This can happen for two reasons: over-mixing the batter and moisture loss during baking. Beat your ingredients at a low speed to prevent incorporating too much air into the mixture. Find a pan large enough to hold your springform pan (a disposable roasting pan works well if you don’t have another cake pan big enough). Wrap the bottom and sides of your springform pan in aluminum foil (because you don’t want your water bath leaking into your cheesecake). Set the springform pan inside the larger pan and fill the larger pan with enough water to go up halfway up the sides of your springform pan.
Before anyone points it out – yes, mine does have a tiny crack in it. I didn’t put enough water in my water bath, so my pan was bone dry by the time the cheesecake came out of the oven. You live and learn, and sometimes you make mistakes.
Once your cheesecake has finished baking, turn the oven off, leave the oven door ajar, and allow the cheesecake to slowly cool in the oven. Resist the temptation to cut right in to your cheesecake. It needs several hours to cool and firm up to the right consistency.
If you want to make this ahead of time, believe it or not cheesecakes can be frozen for up to several months. Just place a cooled cheesecake on a cookie sheet, freeze until firm, then wrap in heavy aluminum foil and place into a freezer bag. Thaw the frozen cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight.
This is my last post before Thanksgiving, so I hope everyone has a great holiday! Tune in on Friday for my list of Christmas gift ideas for a foodie and I will also reveal an upcoming giveaway.
- About 40 gingersnap wafers (to yield 2 cups cookie crumbs)
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 (8 ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups ricotta cheese*
- 1⅓ cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 (15-oounce) can pure solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- Whipped cream, optional
- Place cookies and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well-combined and mixture becomes fine crumbs.
- Pour crumbs in to a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter, initially with a spoon, then get in there with your hands and combine until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it in your hands. Press the cookie crumb mixture onto the bottom and about ¾ of the way up the sides of a springform pan.
- Chill the crust in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.
- While you’re waiting, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a rack in the center of the oven.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Begin heating a pot or kettle of water until it comes to a boil.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium to medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
- In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Add to the cream cheese and continue to beat on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until thoroughly combined.
- Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, making sure each egg has been completely mixed into the batter before adding another one. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Finally, mix in the pumpkin and the vanilla.
- Pour the pumpkin-spice batter in the cooled gingersnap crust. Gently tap the pan on countertop a few times to remove any air bubbles. Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in aluminum foil.**
- Place the pan in a large baking dish or pan with high sides. Place the pan in the oven. Pour the hot water into the pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the pan.
- Bake for about 1 hour 35 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes, or until the top of the cheesecake begins to turn brown and the center is set. Turn the oven off, but do not remove the cheesecake. Leave the oven door ajar and allow the cheesecake to cool slowly in the oven.
- Once the cheesecake has cooled, run a knife around the inside of the springform pan. Remove the sides, cover the cheesecake, and refrigerate overnight.
- Serve individual slices with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.
**This is to prevent water from your water bath from seeping into the bottom of your pan.