If you have room on your Thanksgiving buffet after, then here is one more the add to your list. This Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake 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.
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.
For the crust:
- About 40 gingersnap wafers to yield 2 cups cookie crumbs
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2-1/2 oz. 5 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the filling:
- 2 lb. four 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. table salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
- One 15-oz. can pure solid-pack pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling
For the crust:
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Pulse the cookies and brown sugar in a food processor until the crumbs are fine. Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl; add the melted butter. Combine thoroughly, first with a spoon and then with your fingers, until the mixture is evenly moist and stays together when you squeeze it with your hand.
- Press the mixture evenly over the bottom and partway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Chill for 5 minutes and then bake for 10 minutes. Let the crust cool completely. Leave the oven on.
For the filling:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- In the meantime, beat the cream cheese until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Add this mixture to the cream cheese. Beat until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time. Make sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next egg. Scrape down the bowl after each. Stir in the vanilla and pumpkin.
- Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in two layers of aluminum foil. Pour the batter into the cooled crust. The batter will come up past the crust and will fill the pan to the rim. Tap the pan gently once or twice on the counter to release any air bubbles.
- Set the pan in a larger baking dish or roasting pan, then add enough hot water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Carefully place the pan in the oven. Bake until the top of the cake looks deep golden and the center is set (the cake may just barely begin to crack), approximately 1 hour 35 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. The cake will jiggle a little bit when tapped. The top may rise a bit but will settle as it cools.
- Turn the oven off. Leave the door ajar and let the cheesecake cool to room temperature in the oven. Once it is cooled, cover and chill overnight.
**This is to prevent water from your water bath from seeping into the bottom of your pan.