The best way to describe this Pumpkin Cheesecake
is to say it combines
a New York style cheesecake with pumpkin puree. This
has that smooth and velvety texture that only cheesecakes can have, while at
the same time having the subtle flavor of pumpkin and its complementary
spices. To further enhance the
flavors of this cheesecake, we use a ginger flavored graham cracker crust and a layer of vanilla
flavored sour cream on top. It is sure to become a favorite.
So let's start by talking about the crust. We are making
a graham cracker crust, only we are replacing some of the graham cracker
crumbs with crushed ginger cookies (homemade or store bought). This adds a
nice zippy flavor and grainy texture which goes so well with the rich and
creamy pumpkin cheesecake. If you prefer a plain graham cracker crust,
just use 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) of graham cracker crumbs (or crushed
Digestive Biscuits). Now, graham cracker crusts can be baked or just
chilled. Since we want to have the crust quite firm, it is best to bake
it, so that is what we are going to do here. It only needs about eight to
ten minutes in the oven.
cheesecakes make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature so they
blend together to create a smooth texture. In order to prevent the
cheesecake from cracking beat the ingredients at low speed as, unlike a
butter cake, you do not want to incorporate a lot of air into the batter.
You only want to beat the ingredients until they are nice and smooth. And
use full fat cream cheese and have it at room temperature as cold cream cheese is harder to
beat and you can end up with graininess. You
can use canned pure pumpkin in this recipe or make your own pumpkin puree.
Fortunately there are excellent brands of canned pumpkin on the market which
match the quality of homemade. Just use the pure pumpkin puree that
does not have any spices added to it. Now, if you want to make your own puree,
use the smaller pumpkin varieties like Sugar Pie, Baby Bear or Cheese
Pumpkin (approximately 5-7 lbs., 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 kg.). To make the
puree, cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove seeds and stringy fibers,
and place cut-side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees
F (177 degrees C) for approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours (depending on
size) or until easily pierced with a knife. Scoop out the pulp and
puree in a food processor until smooth. Strain through cheesecloth
to extract all the liquid. Cool before using.
Judging when a cheesecake is fully baked always presents
a challenge, as they do need to be removed from the oven when the
center is still a little wobbly and wet looking. Cracking can also be a
problem. As a cheesecake bakes its moisture evaporates. If too
much moisture is lost (when overcooked), or if it evaporates too quickly
(oven temperature too hot) cracking will occur. So be sure to follow
your recipe's instructions. Also, to prevent cracking, shortly after
you remove the cheesecake from the oven, run a sharp knife around the inside
edge of the cheesecake. Once the cheesecake has completely cooled,
cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, about eight hours, or preferably
allows the cake to set, flavors to meld, and produces a creamier texture.
Pumpkin Cheesecake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177degrees C) and place
the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick spray, an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan.
Crust: In a medium
sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, crushed ginger cookies,
sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of
the prepared spring form pan. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Let cool
while you make the cheesecake..
Cheesecake: In a separate bowl, stir to combine the sugar, cinnamon,
ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
In the bowl
of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), on low speed, beat the cream cheese until
smooth (about 2 minutes). Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until
creamy and smooth (1 to 2 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating
well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down
the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla extract and pumpkin
Pour the filling over the
crust and place the spring form pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips.
Place a cake pan, filled halfway with hot water, on the bottom shelf of your oven to
moisten the air. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes and then reduce the
oven temperature to 325 degrees C (160 degrees C) and continue to bake the
cheesecake for another 10 - 20 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake are
puffed but the center is still a little wet and jiggles when you gently shake the pan. Total
baking time 40 - 60 minutes.
together the sour cream, vanilla extract and sugar. Spread the topping over the
warm cheesecake and return the cheesecake to the oven and bake
about 8 minutes to set the topping. Remove from oven and place on a wire
rack to cool. Loosen the cake from the pan by running a sharp knife around
the inside edge (this will help prevent the cake from cracking). Then
place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan so the cheesecake will
cool slowly. When completely cooled, cover
and refrigerate at least eight hours, preferably overnight, before serving.
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