Our sister-in-law asks for this every Thanksgiving and it is delicious. The original recipe came from an early 2000’s issue of Cook’s Illustrated. While the active in the kitchen time is probably 45 minutes be sure to set aside at least 6 hours before you want go somewhere (like to bed). You’ll need that much between baking and cooling time.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours active, 6 hours before you can put it in the fridge (24 hours after overnight refrigeration).
- 1.5 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tsp. ground ginger, divided
- 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves, divided
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
- 9 whole graham crackers, broken into large pieces
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
- 3 8 oz. bricks cream cheese (1.5 lbs. total), cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- In a small bowl combine 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon each of ginger and cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon clove. Set aside.
- Put a kettle or large pot of water on to boil. You’ll use it for the water-bath later in the recipe.
- Line a baking sheet or cutting board with a triple layer of paper towels. Spread the canned pumpkin over the paper towels. Top with another triple layer of paper towles and press until towels are saturated with liquid. Remove the top layer of towel and discard. Fold the bottom layer of towels in thirds, like in a letter, so that the pumpkin is left in the center of the towel. Set aside.
- Adjust the oven racks so that one is in the center of the oven and a second rack is located below that. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Combine the cracker pieces and sugar/spice mixture in the bowl of a food processor. Processor for about 30 seconds in multi-second pulses. You should end up with a fairly fine powder. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with melted butter. Mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula.
- Dump crumb mixture into the springfold pan and spread evenly. Using a ramenkin or measuring cup press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place a sheet pan on the lower rack and bake the crust on the middle rack for ~15 minutes, until fragrant. Cool on a baking rack while making the filling.
- Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of stand mixer at a medium speed for about 90 seconds. Combine the remaining sugar, ginger, cinnamon, clove along with the nutmeg and allspice. Add about half the sugar mixture to the mixer, stop and scrap the bowl, add the remaining sugar mixture, beat for 1 minute.
- Add the dried pumpkin and vanilla; beat for 1 minute. Stop and scrap the bowl.
- Add 2 eggs, beat for 1 minute. Stop and scrap the bowl.
- Add remaining eggs; beat for 1 minute. Stop and scrap the bowl.
- Add the heavy cream; beat on low for about 30 seconds. Stop mixer, scrap bowl thoroughly and give a final stir by hand.
- Wrap the bottom and sides of the springform pan with aluminum foil. Place the springform pan a roasting pan and fill the springform pan with the cheesecake mixture. Shake the springform pan gently to settle the mixture and smooth the top.
- Transfer the roasting pan to the oven. Carefully pour the hot water you boiled earlier around the springform pan so that it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
- Bake for 85 minutes and check the temp. of the center of cheesecake. Once the temp. reaches 145 to 150°F remove it from the oven to a cooling rack. If not at temp. then bake another 5 minutes and check again.
- Immediately after removing from the oven run a small knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the cake from the side of pan.
- Rest cake in roasting pan until the water has cooled substantially, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the roasting pan, discard the aluminum foil and set the cake on a cooling rack. Cool for at least 3 more hours before wrapping in plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight.
- Before removing the side of the springform pan run a knife along the inside edge once more. Remove the side and slide a thin metal spatula, such as a frosting knife, between the crust and the pan bottom. Transfer cheesecake to a serving plate. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Make sure to remove the cream cheese and eggs from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you start making the recipe.
All springform pans, even the best, will allow a small amount of fat to escape while baking the crust. The baking sheet should catch any drips and save you from a smoky oven (and shrieking fire alarm). Likewise the double layer of aluminum foil should keep the water bath from reaching your tasty creation.
You can enjoy the cheesecake after a 4 hour rest in the fridge however it will taste better if you allow it to rest overnight. Trust me.