The Cheesecakerie

Where life is too short not to eat dessert first…

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

From Baking Illustrated: The practical kitchen companion for the home baker

This recipe has been a huge hit — the perfect Thanksgiving alternative to pumpkin pie (which I thought there really was no substitute for…)

Serves 12 to 16

CRUST

  • 9 whole graham crackers (5 ounces) broken into pieces
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 TSP ground ginger
  • 1/2 TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 TSP ground cloves
  • 6 TBSP (3/4) stick unsalted butter, melted

FILLING

  • 1-1/3 CUPS sugar
  • 1 TSP ground cinammon
  • 1/2 TSP ground ginger
  • 1/4 TSP ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 TSP ground cloves
  • 1/4 TSP ground allspice
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into 1″ chunks at room temp
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 CUP heavy cream

For the crust: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse graham crackers, sugar, and spices in a food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared pan; using your hand, spread crumbs into an even layer. Using a flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making the filling.

For the water bath: Bring about 4 quarts of water to simmer in a stockpot.

To remove excess moisture from the pumpkin, line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin on the paper towels in a roughly even layer. Cover the pumpkin with a second triple layer of paper towels and press firmly until paper towels are saturated. Peel back the top layer of paper towels and discard. Grasp the bottom towels and fold pumpkin in half; peel back the towels. Flip pumpkin off the towels onto the baking sheet: it should flop right off in a solid mass. Do not skip this step! The excess moisture in the pumpkin will make the filling taste watery if it’s not removed.

For the filling: Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in a small bowl; set aside. In a standing mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and sides of bowl well with a rubber spatula. Add about one third of the sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give the mixture a final stir by hand.

Set springform pan with cooled crust inside a thin foil pan (I found that a small roasting pan fits the best). Bend the foil pan up and around the sides of the springform pan, making as tight a seal as you can (there will be gaps). Set the wrapped pan into a metal roasting pan or a Pyrex baking dish. Pour the filling into the springform pan and smooth the surface. Set the pans into the oven and pour the simmering water into the roasting pan or Pyrex dish; enough to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours (start checking at 1 hour). Run a paring knife around the sides of the cake to loosen; set roasting pan or Pyrex on a wire rack and cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from the water bath and discard the foil wrapper. Continue to cool on wire rack until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

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