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Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

Monday, September 30, 2013

Recipe adopted from Cook's Illustrated: The Science of Good Cooking.

I know, I know, "another pumpkin dessert?!?"  Yup, and we're just getting started.  Pumpkin season is officially here and I intend to take full advantage of it.  Used in sweet and savory dishes, pumpkin is a versatile ingredient that, when combined with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, brings a warm and comforting feel to any recipe.  Combining my love of cheesecakes with pumpkin, I have made a pumpkin cheesecake before, but I thought it was time to give my newest cookbook's version a try.  Both recipes were winners in my book, but I think what sets this one apart is its texture.  Texturally it seemed more like a pumpkin pie with a cheesecake twist (so a light cheesecake), whereas the other recipe seemed like a typical dense cheesecake with a pumpkin twist.


6 ounces (~1 1/2 cups or ~11 whole sheets) graham crackers, finely crushed
1 3/4 ounces (~1/4 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

9 1/3 ounces (~1 1/3 cups) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted (used for greasing the pan)


Preheat the oven to 325° F.  In a food processor, pulse the crackers until coarsely ground.  Add the sugar and spices and continue pulsing until a fine consistency is met.  Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl, add the melted butter, and stir with a rubber spatula until the crumbs are evenly coated.  Press the crust into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and compact down using the bottom of a ramekin (or flat-bottomed cup).  Bake the crust for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.  Wrap the outside of the springform pan with 2 sheets of aluminum foil to create a waterproof seal.  Bring a pot of water to a boil while working on the cheesecake filling.

For the filling, whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside.  Stack three paper towels on a flat surface and then spread the pumpkin puree over the paper.  Top with two more paper towels and press down gently to soak up any excess moisture.

Add the room temperature cream cheese to a stand mixer bowl and beat on medium speed for one minute.  Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar mixture in three additions on medium-low speed.  Scrape down the bowl and add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Beat on medium for 45 seconds and scrape down the bowl.  Add the room temperature eggs one at a time and beat on medium low.  Lastly, add the heavy cream and beat on low for an additional 45 seconds.  Stir by hand using a rubber spatula to make sure everything is incorporated and uniform.

Brush the inside of the pan with melted butter and then add the filling to the pan.  Set the pan in a large roasting pan (I used a lasagna pan) and fill the roasting pan with boiling water until the water comes halfway to the top of the springform pan.  Carefully transfer to a lower-middle rack in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours.  To make sure it's done, give the cheesecake a gentle jerk.  The center few inches should still jiggle.  If the whole cheesecake jiggles, you know it's not done.  When you think it's ready, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.  Using a sharp paring knife, follow the perimeter of the cheesecake to make sure the cheesecake releases from the pan.  [Side note:  Not releasing the cheesecake from the pan can make a perfect looking cheesecake turn into a cracked cheesecake during the cooling process].

Once brought to room temperature (or close to it), transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.  Personally I let mine set up and cool for at least one full day before slicing into; it really makes a difference.

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  1. I agree - this was a fabulous cheesecake!!!!!!!!!! I made it last year for Thanksgiving and am still dreaming about it now! I actually made two pumpkin cheesecakes for the same night to compare recipes (the other was not from Cook's Illustrated or their company), and this one was the clear crowd favorite :) We liked the Brown sugar bourbon whipped cream too. Mine was from their Entertaining 2010 issue, so I'm glad to see that they reprinted it (with great background info, I'm sure), in their Science cookbook. The more people that can see this awesome recipe, the better :) I love Cook's Illustrated!!!

    1. Glad you've benefited from Cook's Illustrated too :) They really know what they're doing and don't settle on a recipe until it's exactly what they're looking for. I was going to try their brown sugar bourbon whipped cream the last time I made this cheesecake, but it never happened. Hopefully for Thanksgiving :)