Pie pumpkins are at market now, which means it's time for Pumpkin Cheesecake. If you love pumpkin pie and you also love cheesecake, you'll think you're in heaven when you try pumpkin cheesecake. The best way to make it is with fresh pumpkin from the market. Be sure to get pie pumpkins, though because they are sweeter and taste much better than plain pumpkin in desserts. Pumpkins can be roasted ahead of time, pureed and refrigerated until ready to use. The puree doesn't freeze well, however, because of the high water content in pumpkin. To roast pumpkins, wash and dry them, then split in half, scoop out seeds and bake cut side down on a sheet pan for about 45 minutes at 350°, or until they are soft when pierced with a fork. Allow to cool before scooping and pureeing the meat. If they are dry and don't puree easily, add just a little water while pureeing. One pie pumpkin will be enough for a cake, with some left over for bread, muffins, scones, or whatever else you dream up to do with the puree...maybe just add some butter, brown sugar and nutmeg and eat it!
You can try all sorts of variations, which you'll find in cookbooks and on the web. Be creative, you'd be surprised how fun some of them are, for instance chocolate pumpkin cheesecake...sounds awful, right? Not so...with a chocolate crust and either chocolate chips added to the batter or melted chocolate ganache swirled into the pumpkin it's pretty darn great.
Here's my recipe for a basic pumpkin cheesecake.
- 1 pkg graham crackers (they normally have 3 per box)
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 24oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup raw sugar
- 4 eggs (at room temperature)
- 1/4 cup pastry flour (can use all-purpose flour)
- 12 oz pumpkin
- 2-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
In a food processor pulse graham crackers, cinnamon, brown sugar and pecans until well blended and finely ground. Add butter and process until well incorporated. Pat into the bottom of a springform or removable bottom 9" pan. Grease the sides of the pan with non-stick spray or spray vegetable oil. In a mixer, combine cream cheese, brown sugar, raw sugar, flour and pumpkin pie spice. Mix until smooth and no lumps of cream cheese in batter, scraping bowl frequently. Add pumpkin and blend well. Add eggs and mix until incorporated. Pour into prepared crust and bake at 325° for 60-75 minutes or until the center jiggles like set jello. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the pan to help keep the cake from cracking while cooling. Cool on wire rack for 30-45 minutes then refrigerate overnight before serving.
Note: If you don't use the nuts, add another 1/2 package of graham crackers to the crust ingredients.
Will keep refrigerated up to 7 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. If freezing, wrap in plastic wrap then in foil or store in an airtight container.