Happy December! I hope your Thanksgiving was happy and, like we talked about in the last post, HEALTHY!
So…I hope you won’t hate me…or think I’m a big ol’ hypocrite…if my next post is about a ridiculously amazing, gingersnap-crusted, cream-topped showstopping pumpkin cheesecake.
Sorry? But not sorry?
All I can say is that my approach to food is all about balance, and with that in mind, occasional portion-controlled indulgences like pumpkin cheesecake can absolutely be included. That’s my Official Nutritionist Stance on the matter. My Official Foodie Stance on the matter is that this cheesecake rocks my world.
You may be feeling pretty over it when it comes to anything pumpkin-flavored now that it’s December, but let me encourage you not to trade all your gourds in for candy canes just yet. If a Christmas party or other special occasion is in your future this holiday season, THIS is the dessert you want to bring. For me, it is ALWAYS the dessert that people hover around, comment about, groan over in delight, sneak into their purse, etc. Last month I served it at a house concert we hosted and a week later, two people happened to mention separately that they were still thinking about it. (So am I.) It takes some time and effort, but really is not difficult to make for such a gorgeous and delicious final product. There are no unusual ingredients, no chef-level techniques, and–best of all for cheesecake–no water bath.
So this season, be the showstopper of the neighborhood Christmas party/work potluck/New Year’s Bash with something truly special. And for me, your nutritionist friend, enjoy it in moderation.
Showstopper Pumpkin Cheesecake
For the crust:
- 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
- 1/3 c. crushed gingersnaps
- 1/4 c. white sugar
- 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
- 5 Tbsp. melted butter
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
- 24 oz. cream cheese, softened and cut into cubes
- 1/2 c. white sugar
- 2 Tbsp. heavy cream or half and half
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp. bourbon (optional)
For the topping:
- 2 c. sour cream
- 3 Tbsp. white sugar
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 18 pecan halves, for garnish
- Make the crust: in a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, chopped pecans, gingersnap crumbs, and both sugars, then stir in melted butter. Press carefully into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.
- Make the filling: in a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Add the cubed softened cream cheese and sugar and blend on medium speed with a hand mixer until no lumps remain. Beat in cream, cornstarch, vanilla, and bourbon (if using). Pour into chilled crust.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until the center is set. (If your springform pan tends to be leaky like mine, you may want to place a baking sheet underneath it.) Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the cream topping: in a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, sugar, and maple syrup. Spread over the top of the baked cheesecake, smoothing with a spatula. Bake another 5-10 minutes, then cool completely. Garnish with pecan halves and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- *Tip for serving: instead of a knife, try slicing the cheesecake using dental floss. Way less mess!