Okay, this is the last pumpkin recipe this season. I PROMISE, really! It’s about time a cheesecake appeared on this blog. It is almost Thanksgiving after all and cheesecake always makes an appearance on my family’s Thanksgiving table. I haven’t been a fan of pumpkin cheesecake in the past, but this version changed that. The pumpkin flavor is not overpowering and the cinnamon and allspice add the perfect touch. The cheesecake is so light and airy, making it a little less heavy and rich than others. I was skeptical of baking this in a water bath at first, as I usually just bake my cheesecakes straight in the oven. The water bath is a little extra work, but it is definitely worth it.
You could use graham crackers or gingersnaps for the crust, but I have always used Nilla Wafers. They yield the ultimate crust in my opinion and we all know the crust is just as important as the inside. I like as large a crust to cake ratio as possible so I pack the crust up the side of the pan, but you could also just do a bottom crust and nothing on the sides.
This cheesecake is truly best after sitting in the fridge overnight. I am suggesting this from experience because I definitely have no patience. I couldn’t resist trying it immediately, but it seems to just keep getting better each day. It is perfection as I eat it right now at 10 pm at night, 48 hours after it was baked. Don’t judge. Nothing like a piece of cheesecake to end your day!
For the crust:
3 cups crushed Nilla Wafers
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (15oz) can of pumpkin
3 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan tightly with two pieces of foil. To make the crust, crush the Nilla Wafers in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely ground and then measure 3 cups out into a medium sized bowl. Add the melted butter and spices and stir to combine. Dump the crumbs into the springform pan and use your hands or the bottom of a small glass to press the crumbs into an even layer on the sides and bottom of the pan. I try to press the crumbs a little more than halfway up the side of the pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Then set inside a larger roasting pan.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and maintain at a simmer. To make the filling, combine the sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl. Line your counter with a triple layer of towels and spread the pumpkin out on the towels. Then cover with a second triple layer of towels and press firmly until the towels are saturated with excess liquid.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and softened, about 1 minute. Add about a third of the sugar-spice mixture to the bowl and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed and repeat, adding the remaining sugar mixture in two additions. Add the pumpkin, vanilla and lemon juice. Add 3 of the eggs and mix on medium-low until incorporated, and repeat with remaining two eggs. Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to give the mixture a final stir by hand.
Pour the filling into the springform pan that is sitting in a roasting pan. Smooth the top. Then pour enough simmering water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken and the center reads 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 90 minutes. Transfer the roasting pan to a wire rack and cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and run a pairing knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. (I store mine right inside the springform pan)
Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats