This cheesecake is a bit of a twist on the traditional pumpkin pie. The combination works quite well–the pumpkin adds a velvety smooth texture and delicious flavor even if you’re not a pumpkin pie fan and the caramel topping goes well with the pumpkin cheese filling. It’s a bit of work with a lot of moving parts so if you’re feeling ambitious this could work for you. The gingersnap crust is also a departure from the traditional graham cracker crust. If you don’t like gingersnaps you can always substitute graham cracker crumbs. You’ll also need a 9-inch springform pan. I love Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma for their pans.
Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours.
Enjoy and keep on cooking with Candi.
About 40 gingersnap wafers (about 2 cups cookie crumbs)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature — I wrote up a little note on softening cream cheese at the bottom of this recipe
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
9 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground all-spice
4 large eggs
caramel sauce (store-bought) or melt caramel candy if you can find those little squares
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the cookies and brown sugar until well combined and crumbs are uniform and ground up. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add the cooled, melted butter. Combine thoroughly, first with a spoon and then with your clean fingers, until the mixture is evenly moist, crumbly, and holds together when you squeeze a handful. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom and part way up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Chill for 5 minutes and then bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to a small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use later for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice to mixture into balance of filling in bowl of mixer and beat until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Pour filling into crust (it should almost fill the pan.) Bake until cheesecake puffs up, the top browns and the center is a little loose when pan is shaken (about 1 hour 15 minutes.) Transfer cheesecake to rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Run a small sharp knife around the cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake from the pan. Let it sit till completely cool. Cover tightly in pan and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, bring the remaining cream cheese mixture (that you set aside for the topping) to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake till even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Now, either use a spoon or pour the caramel sauce over cream cheese mixture and with a knife tip, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Make 1 day ahead , cover and refrigerate. I wouldn’t make too many days ahead, because the crust may get soggy.) I will make the cake on Tuesday and the topping Wednesday to serve Thursday for Thanksgiving.
*Many people bake cheesecake in a water bath. I find this difficult sometimes, because water can seep into the pan (even though it shouldn’t) and you have to cover the whole pan with aluminum foil to avoid it (and it still happens!) I find if I place a long glass Pyrex dish with water on the rack below the cake it helps to prevent a crack in the center. If the cake still cracks, don’t despair. That’s why I like this recipe because you will be covering it with topping!!! Yeah, a cake fixer!!! Gotta love it. Good luck and keep me posted if you’re game for this.
How to soften cream cheese bars:
Place completely unwrapped package of cream cheese in a microwaveable bowl . Microwave on HIGH for 10 seconds, check it to see how soft it is. Add time in small increments if you need to , like 3 seconds at a time, if you’re doing 2 bars start at 15 seconds.