Thankful for pumpkin cheesecake
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We had our dinner on Saturday, so today I can just lie around and relax (read: furiously clean my house because my parents are visiting in a few days). The best thing about today is going to be the leftovers, clearly. And the most coveted leftover this year is the pumpkin cheesecake made by yours truly. Originally I was going to make a pumpkin pie… I even bought lard, but after listening to more than one comment like this, “I don’t really like pumpkin pie that much, but it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it,” I decided to rethink dessert. Although, I’m not particularly fond of cheesecake, my family adores it. So, it seemed like a no-brainer. And speaking of no brains, with the gift of hindsight, I advise you to make a cheesecake the day BEFORE. I have a nasty habit of skimming recipes. So, after barely looking at the recipe Friday night, I opted to watch Downton Abbey instead of baking. Saturday morning was a rude awakening. Apparently, cheesecake is ALWAYS made a day ahead, so that it can rest and chill for many, many, many hours — like, twelve. I had 6 hours until dinner. I also had a billion dollars worth of softened cream cheese and I’d already ground up the gingersnaps. I was in it to win it. And so, I soldiered on. If Rome were a cheesecake and I were a Roman, it would have been built in a day!
Bourbon pumpkin cheesecake
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2003
Serves 12 to 14 (or 6 in my family) – Make a day ahead, for best results & saving of the sanity, or go ahead and make it the same day. no one is the boss of you.
For crust (this crust is delicious, so if you like a lot of crust, you can expand this – again, the gift of hindsight)
1/2 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/4 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
1/2 cup ground pecans (1 3/4 ounce)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature (time saver: to quickly soften cream cheese or butter, put in a sealed freezer bag & immerse in a bowl of warm water)
2 cups whipping cream (everyone likes extra whipped cream!)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
Garnish: pecan halves & gingersnap crumbs
Make crust: Butter a 9 or 10-inch (the smaller the pan, the thicker the crust) springform pan , then lock on side.
Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.
Make filling and bake cheesecake: Put oven rack in middle position and Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using – you SHOULD) in a bowl until combined.
Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.
Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.
Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Bake times vary depending on your oven. You want the center to just wobble like Jello. It will continue to set as it cools. It shouldn’t roll like liquid. DO NOT stick anything in it to test for doneness. No point and it cracks your cheesecake. Transfer to rack and cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.
Or if you’re me, take your cheesecake outside and put it on a rack on top of freestanding clothes dryer to ensure maximum cooling airflow! Cool as long as you can get away with (1 hour, for me) and pop in the freezer until an hour before serving. I left it, covered, in the freezer for 2 hours, then I put it uncovered in the fridge for an hour.
45 mins before serving, remove the cheesecake from the fridge, un-spring your springform and transfer your cake to the serving plate. Use a warmed spatula to pry the delicious crust from the pan, if needed. If for some crazy reason the crust sticks, leave it on the pan! You can put the pan on something pretty or do some camo-garnishing later. I’m happy to report mine came free very easily.
Make the whipped topping and spread half of it on the cake. What’s that, your cheesecake cracked? WHO CARES? It’s still delicious and now it’s smothered in pillows of whipped cream. Sweet!
Sprinkle crushed gingersnaps and pecan halves on top and let it sit for a half hour before serving.
So there you have it. Sure, it’s probably really and for truly too late to make this for this Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s a great way to use up left-over pumpkin. Obviously, this is better the next day or you know, made a day ahead. Whatevs. I’m here to tell you it CAN be done the same day. It was delicious and I might make it again at Christmas … or even the day before Christmas.