I once made this pumpkin cheesecake on Daytime TV … in under 4 minutes! Chalk it up to TV magic.
Now, that being said, I don’t recommend making this in 4 minutes — you actually need about 45 minutes to put it all together and another hour to bake it. But, if you’ve never made cheesecake before, don’t be intimidated. It’s actually quite easy. The hardest part is not eating all the creamy pumpkin batter right out of the bowl!
Chef Jim from the Mount Dora Historic Inn gave me a few extra little tips that gives it a little extra panache. Follow along and I’ll make you the star of your Thanksgiving dinner table.
Here’s what you’ll need …
As long as you have the right pan, every thing else is a piece of cake. Pun intended. If you’ve made cheesecake before, skip down a bit. If this is your first time, then let me introduce you to the springform pan.
This nifty little inexpensive dishware can be found at most large-we-sell-anything-and-everything-superstores. You might also be able to find it at your local grocer. “What exactly does it do?” you ask. Well, it has a nice little hinge on the side that, when opened, releases the sides of the pan allowing you to display your cheesecake as a nice perfect whole cake rather than trying to dig it out with spoon.
(Not that I’ve ever done that … ah em.)
Here are the rest of the bits you’ll need (full recipe and measurements at the end of the post.)
Some cream cheese, softened to room temperature. And I do mean room temperature. If you have a sunny little spot on your counter top, let it sit there awhile and catch some rays while you pull everything else out of your cabinets and refrigerator. It may take a good hour for it to warm up.
warmed up room temperature cream cheese = easy + creamy cheesecake
cold cream cheese = chunky cheesecake + frustrated baker with sticky bits clogging up their mixer
Catchin my math here?
In addition to cream cheese, you’ll need graham cracker crumbs, ginger snaps, butter, eggs, pumpkin pie spices, brown sugar, sour cream, a pinch of salt, and some BOURBON. (You have to say that last ingredient with your best Southern accent, as if you’ve taken a swig or two) BOOOOOURBON.
*In my best fake Southern accent*
“Did I say BOURBON? Why, yes, yes I did say Bourbon. Pass me some whisk-eh!”
Cooking is always fun in my kitchen. And while I may laugh and play with my fake Southern accent (as if you could hear me?) I do have a confession. I don’t drink whiskey. I’m a wine girl. So walking out of the liquor store with a brown paper bag wrapped around this teeny bottle had me blushing in the same way I did when I was 13 years old and running to the cash register hoping no one saw me buy my first box of “monthly supplies.” Girls, you understand. Guys, you’ll never know, so don’t ask.
So, yes, I was blushing and looking over my shoulder to see if any of my small town neighbors would catch me buying whiskey before noon and start spreading rumors that I’d become a “drinkah.”
But inviting Jack Daniels into my home for some Thanksgiving baking was the BEST decision I’ve made this week. Just WAIT until you taste it.
Now that my confession is over with … onto the good stuff! Let’s start with the crust, shall we?
For cheesecake, it’s really easy. Just 3 simple ingredients. Graham cracker crumbs, pinch of brown sugar, and some butter. Chef Jim suggested a little bonus ingredient. Ginger Snaps. You can crumble up handful of these spicy cookies in your little food processor.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can throw 5 or 6 cookies into a large zip lock bag and crush them with a wooden spoon to make some crumbs.
Now, I have to warn you, if you decide to go this route I will suggest you put the whiskey away. Unless you want your family to find you in your kitchen with a bottle of bourbon smacking cookies with a spoon.
Mix them all together …
Then press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the springform pan and up to the sides. Pop it into the oven at 350 for 10 minutes and then let it cool on a wire rack while you mix the filling.
Step 1 is done. See, wasn’t that easy?
Now on to the fall ingredient that makes this cheesecake extra special … pumpkin.
Pumkin actually holds A LOT of water. So, if you want to keep your cheesecake firm, you’ll need to soak up some of that water. Chef Jim gave me a little tip for how to do that … spreading it out on paper towels. Simple white un-printed plain ole paper towels. Fancy, huh?
Spread the pumpkin out onto a layer of 6 to 8 paper towels using a spatula.
When you’ve got it spread over the paper towel like icing, add another couple of layers of paper towels and press softly to absorb more of the moisture.
Next you want to mix or “cream” together the cream cheese and brown sugar.
Then add the pumpkin and mix some more.
Add your eggs, vanilla and spices and you’ve got your filling!
When it’s all mixed together, scrape the edge of the bowl with a spatula …
don’t lick it …
not yet anyway… and blend some more until it’s nice and creamy.
Then, spread it out onto your baked graham and ginger crust.
Then bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour.
TIP! In other cheesecake recipes I’ve done, it usually calls for a “water bath” in which you wrap the bottom of the springform pan with tinfoil and place the cheesecake in a pan half filled with water while baking. This is a little precarious because it’s heavy … and it’s extremely hot water.
The purpose of the water bath is to keep the cheesecake moist and prevent it from getting dried out around the edges.
Well Jim said I could just stick a pan or bowl in separately and have the same effect. He does this with his cheesecake as well as his souffles. Well hallelluah! I (we) don’t have to fret over pulling a gigantic heavy hot “water bath” out of the oven. Just let the pan/bowl full of water cool before removing. Brilliant! Wish I would have known this little short cut last time I made cheesecake.
Step 2 is done. See … easy!
Now the final step.
After the cheesecake is done baking, you’ll need to let it cool for an hour and then place it in the refrigerator to chill (overnight or for a couple of hours)
These 3 ingredients will be your topping. A container of sour cream. (Why did I go “lite” on the sour cream, I don’t know. Nothing else about his recipe is “lite” and the 20 calories I saved in using this one didn’t make a lick of difference I’m sure. Thanksgiving is not for diets, after all. That’s what New Years Resolutions are for.)
Add to the sour cream about 2 to 3 cap fulls of Bourbon and a whole lot of shug-ah.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon CreamPrint
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cups finely ground ginger snaps
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 – 5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened and at room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- For the crust, mix together the following ingredients: graham cracker crumbs, finely ground ginger snaps, 1 TBSP brown sugar, melted unsalted butter.
- PREHEAT oven to 350°F.
- Press crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (do not allow to brown). Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Note for Pumpkin: Pumpkin holds a lot of water, so in order to make the cheesecake more firm you need to drain some of that water. One quick and easy way to do this is to layer 6 or 7 plain white paper towels and spread the pumpkin over the paper towels. Next, layer 6 to 7 towels on top of that and press firmly. Once the paper towels are soaked through, remove top layer of towels and scrape pumpkin off the bottom layer with a spatula.
- Filling: After draining the pumpkin, beat together cream cheese and 2/3 cup brown sugar in large mixer bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs and pumpkin then add remaining spices, salt and vanilla.
- Pour your filling on top of crust. In order to keep the oven “moist” fill a separate cake pan or bowl half way with water and place on the bottom rack of your oven. BAKE for 55 to 60 minutes or until edge is set. Let cool for 1 hour, then cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.