I have always loved pumpkin bread. I don't understand the recent fascination with pumpkin because it's always been one of my favorite flavors and at my house I keep pumpkin stocked year round (this year I'm stocking up more than usual because we supposedly have a big pumpkin shortage on our hands– I'm not sure I believe it yet because we were told the same thing several years ago and I continued to see pumpkin on the shelves).
I hadn't made cheesecake in a long time so for our last party I decided to combine two great flavors for a pumpkin cheesecake. However, when I went searching for a recipe, I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, and I wanted to make my own crust. What you see here is the combination of two Martha Stewart recipes: Pumpkin Cheesecake and Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie with Gingersnap Crust; and one from the Food Network: Incredibly Crisp Gingersnaps (by Nick Malgieri).
While I love graham crackers, I didn't want to use them as the crust but I also didn't want to make the pie or buy the gingersnaps. It's really not that much extra work to make the gingersnaps yourself– it's mostly planning to make them the day before so you don't have as much work to do at once (plus letting them cool). And because you'll be crumbling them, there is no need to create perfect cookies. I thought about making them as a sheet and baking them that way but simply made odd-shaped cookies instead.
As we transition between Halloween and Thanksgiving, this is a great fall dessert.
Pumpkin Cheese Cake with a Gingersnap Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar in small bowl for finishing.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, and spices in a bowl; stir well to mix. Using the paddle attachment on mixer, beat butter and sugar together for about 5 minutes, until very light, fluffy, and whitened. Add the egg and continue beating until smooth. Lower the speed and beat in half the dry ingredients, then the molasses. Be sure to stop the mixer and scrape the bowl to catch any excess dry ingredients. Add the remaining dry ingredients, stir until combined. Roll the dough into balls and then roll in the sugar. Place on a parchment lined or non-stick pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. They are ready when the surface is cracked and they are firm to the touch. Let them cool on racks and place in an airtight container overnight.
For the cheesecake:
The gingersnaps above
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, very soft
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons pumpkin-pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center. Pulse the crumbs in a food processor until finely ground. Assemble a 9-inch nonstick springform pan with the raised side of the bottom part facing up.
Mix the cracker crumbs and butter in a medium bowl until moistened; press firmly into the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden in spots, 12 to 15 minutes.
To make the filling: beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth; mix in flour, careful not to overmix. Add the pumpkin puree, pie spice, and vanilla, mixing until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.
Place the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling into springform, and gently smooth the top. Transfer to the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake stay in the oven for another 2 hours. Do not open the oven during that time (I put a note on the oven door)!
Let cool completely after removed from the oven. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours and unmold before serving.