Chuck William’s Thanksgiving & Christmas (now out-of-print but available used) is a great resource for the holidays, and one its best recipes is for pumpkin cheesecake. It takes about 30 minutes to prepare, another hour to cook and a night to chill, but the effort is worth it for the decadent treat.
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ lb cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups pumpkin puree, at room temperature
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 eggs, lightly beaten (at room temperature)
Preparing the crust:
1) Cover the outside of a 9” springform pan with aluminum foil. Butter the inside and set aside.
2) In a bowl stir together the graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons of sugar and the ginger. Stir and toss with gradually adding the melted butter. Continue to stir and toss until well mixed.
3) Press the crumb mixture evenly over the inside bottom of the pan and 1 ¾ inches up the sides. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preparing the batter:
1) Place the room temperature cream cheese in the mixing bowl and beat on medium for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
2) Slowly add the 1 cup of sugar while continuing to beat. A stand mixer makes this much easier, but don’t forget to scrape down the bowl sides.
3) Add the pumpkin, orange zest, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and continue to beat until smooth.
4) Add the eggs a little at a time and beating well after each addition.
5) Poor the batter in the prepared pan. You can smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 60-70 minutes on the center rack of a 325 degree oven. When the cheesecake is ready the top will be lightly puffed over but the center will be underset. Don’t worry about the giggling, it will firm up during cooling.
Cool first in the oven with the door open and then on a wire rack for 1-2 hours. This will help prevent cracking. When the cheesecake is approaching room temperature, remove the foil, refrigerate overnight and enjoy with friends the next day.