If you love pumpkin, but you are kind of looking to do something other than pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, this might be your lucky day. All decked out for the dessert table, it is quite a showstopper. Here’s where you get to use those caramelized nuts I shared recently for something other than stuffing in your face. 🙂
The hidden ingredient in this cheesecake is one cup of melted white chocolate that gets mixed in with the filling. You can’t taste it or detect that it is there, but it gives the cheesecake a wonderfully creamy texture. Cheesecake fans always give me rave reviews for this one. It is dense, creamy, and pumpkin-y. I tried a similar recipe without the white chocolate a few years ago, and it was good, but it was a light and airy, mousse-like cheesecake. My tasters have all preferred the recipe with the white chocolate–this one that I am sharing today. I just remembered; perhaps I should have labeled this “Award-winning Pumpkin Cheesecake” because this is the cheesecake I won first place for at an Oktoberfest celebration last year. You will surely be rewarded if you make it for a get-together this fall.
Earlier this week I shared Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars that are easy and no-fuss as far as the cheesecake part goes. Today’s recipe is full-on, real cheesecake baked in a hot water bath. It isn’t particularly hard, but it is another step and a few more dirty dishes. Once again, though, it is worth the extra effort.
- 1 and 3/4 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 25 cookies of the Great Value brand)
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3/4 cup ground pecans
For the filling:
- 3 (8 ounce) blocks of cream cheese
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 6 ounces melted white chocolate (1 cup white chocolate chips)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
For the topping: (optional)
- fresh whipping cream (1 cup beat with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4-1/3 cup powdered sugar) or packaged whipped topping
- caramelized pecans or toasted pecans or chopped pecans
- caramel sauce (homemade or jarred)
- For the crust: Use a food processor to crush gingersnap cookies. Then do pecans. Melt butter in a small microwaveable bowl and add gingersnap crumbs, crushed pecans, brown sugar, and butter and stir well. Press into a 9 inch spring form pan. Spread crust evenly across the bottom and 1 inch up the sides. (Tip: Use a measuring cup to press and even crust.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare for baking by either wrapping the bottom of the spring form pan with two large pieces of heavy duty foil, or by putting the spring form pan inside an oven roasting bag and rolling down the top. (I saw the oven bag tip years ago, and it really works well.) The purpose of this step is to keep your cheesecake from getting wet while in the hot water bath. Fill and begin heating water in a medium sized pot or tea kettle to use for the hot water bath. Find a pan or roaster that will hold your spring form pan flat and accommodate 2-3 inches of water. (I used a 10 x 15 glass baking pan.)
- For the filling: Melt chocolate in a small microwaveable bowl on lower power (70%) in 30 second increments, stirring between, until smooth. Set aside. With an electric or stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating on low just long enough to combine. (Tip: Too much beating is a major cause for cracked cheesecake.) Add pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix briefly on low. While still on low, add in melted white chocolate just until combined. Give the mixture a good stir with your spatula and then pour this mixture on top of the crust.
- Set the wrapped or bagged spring form pan inside your larger pan and place in preheated oven. Carefully pour the hot water that you prepared above into the larger pan until about halfway up the cheesecake pan.
- Bake for 60-75 minutes or until set. The middle of the cheesecake should be slightly jiggly. It will firm up more when cooling and chilling. (Tip: At this point, I turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake in there with the door slightly ajar for at least thirty minutes. This is supposed to reduce cracking by allowing the cheesecake to cool more gradually.)
- Remove from oven and let chill on a rack until cool. Refrigerate for several hours. (The recipe source recommends at least 12 hours because this cheesecake is soft. I know I have cut mine after only 10 hours and it has been fine, but chill as long as you can for best results.)
- When ready to serve, garnish as desired. I piped sweetened whip cream on top with a 2D tip and then sprinkled a few extra gingersnap crumbs over it. Next, I drizzled a little bit of homemade caramel in sort of a star pattern across the top and then down the side of the cheesecake. I put a caramelized pecan on each mound of whip cream and garnished the plate around the cheesecake with extra caramelized pecans. It looked stunning.
- To cut, use a long sharp knife, wiping off with hot water between slices to get the cleanest slices. Store leftovers in the refrigerator or freeze.
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