Ooh, how autumn is creeping in. What better time for some of the best cold-weather flavours in existence? Pumpkin, warm spices and bourbon! Look, some people consider bourbon an important part of warming up during the cold months.
This is one of those recipes that never disappoints. You would literally have to forget to put the cream cheese in the batter to make it fallible. I found this cheesecake at smitten kitchen last year and immediately set upon making it for Thanksgiving. Or Christmas. I can’t remember. The point is, this cake blew minds and I made it my personal duty to make it annually. I’m finishing the last piece as I write this, days later, and it’s as perfect as day one. The cake is rich, creamy, yet light enough that it won’t push you overboard after already consuming a massive meal. A sliver is all it takes, and I probably wouldn’t recommend eating more than that at first because before you know it there won’t be any cheesecake left and everyone will be mad at you for not leaving any leftovers. Not like I’m speaking from experience of anything…
There are only a couple of things that I noted between how the cake worked for me, versus how it worked for Deb (smitten’s author):
- a food processor would have been a gift from the gods if I had one, as finely chopping whole pecans by hand nearly gave me carpel tunnel in my wrist–so if you have a food processor, use it!
- refrigerating the cake for more than four hours is crucial–this time ’round I made it in a hurry and only had four hours to chill it; needless to say the cake was quite soft in the centre and a bit tricky to slice (but it can be done)
Pumpkin desserts of any kind are basically perfect for most autumn/winter events or dinners. If you unleash this recipe on your friends and family–or, hell, even your co-workers–I guarantee you will be asked to make it again and again. At which point you can trade cheesecake for favours.
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs or gingersnaps
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (in the future I might reduce this by a tablespoon or so…it seemed a little saturated for my taste)
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (look for “pure”, “100% pumpkin”, or scan the ingredients for one and only thing: pumpkin with zero spices added)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream (or whipping cream, in Canada)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional; I used regular ol’ Jack Daniels)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8oz./250g.) bricks cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups sour cream (or one 500mL container)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
Garnish: pecan halves
- Have your springform at the ready and grease with butter if it’s not non-stick (there is enough fat in the cake I had no problem with sticking). Meanwhile, combine cookie crumbs, chopped pecans, both sugars, and melted butter in a bowl. You may find using your hands to break up clumps works best. Press the mixture into the springform and chill for 1 hour.
- Slide rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the pumpkin, eggs (one at a time), brown sugar, heavy/whipping cream, vanilla, and bourbon until it becomes velvety and smooth.
- In a large bowl sift together the granulated sugar, cornstarch and spices. Add the cream cheese and beat at high speed until smooth. Reduce speed to medium and add pumpkin mixture, mixing until incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the springform and smooth the top so it’s level, then place the springform on a cookie sheet or sheet pan, as the butter may leak. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the cake is just set. Transfer springform to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes, meanwhile leaving your oven on.
- In a small or medium bowl combine sour cream, sugar and bourbon, then spread it evenly atop the cheesecake and bake for 5 more minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool, in the springform, for 3 hours. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours. Release the sides from the pan and bring to room temperature before serving, about an hour.
This cake can easily be made a day or two in advance, and I actually recommend doing that to ensure the centre has properly set. Twelve hours of refrigeration really makes all the difference in the world to this cake.