Okay. I waited for two years to post this one. The guilt pangs were holding me back. This is obviously not a daily dessert. Not even a year-round dessert in our household. But with the holidays approaching, I felt it would be negligent of me not to let you know… that this is one “bang-up” of a celebration dessert you’ve just got to have in your collection. A real party-in-your-mouth. We’re talking incredible flavor here! This is a rich one in a good way. I love to serve it at parties not only because people can’t stop raving, but it’s cheesecake after all… there’s enough to go around at even your largest of gatherings.
You can always whip this up ahead of time and let it chill in your fridge a day or two before the festivities… or even freeze ahead and pull out the night before. It all works. Such a special one.
Almost-Famous Pumpkin Cheesecake
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 9 hr 0 min
Cook Time: 2 hr 45 min
Serves: 12 servings
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 3/4 cups sugar
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
6 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
1/3 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped (optional)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush a 10-inch springform pan with some of the butter. Stir the remaining butter with the crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly and evenly. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack, then wrap the outside of the springform pan with foil and place in a roasting pan.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, 1 teaspoon salt and the spices and beat until just combined. Pour into the cooled crust.
Pour the water into the roasting pan about halfway up the sides of the springform pan and very, very carefully transfer all to oven. Bake until the outside of the cheesecake sets but the center is still loose, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door briefly to let out some heat, then close door. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from the roasting pan and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Bring the cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Unlock and remove the springform ring. To finish, place a dollop of the whipped cream on each slice and sprinkle with the toasted pecans if desired.
(Adapted from Food Network Magazine)