Spiced Pumpkin Cheescake

Crust Ingredients:

  • 5 oz. crushed graham crackers (by weight)
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 6 T. unsalted butter, melted
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 24 oz. cream cheese (3 packages), room temperature
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray, then wrap the pan with several layers of aluminum foil to prevent water from seeping into the pan – cover the pan at least 2/3 of the way up the sides of the pan. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and spices in a small bowl and whisk together. Add the melted butter, and mix with a fork until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and gently shake the pan to evenly distribute the crumbs. Using drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

FOR THE FILLING: Bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in a tea pot or stockpot. Whisk sugar, spices, and salt together in small bowl and set aside. Then, dry the pumpkin puree:  line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Spread pumpkin on paper towels in roughly even layer. Cover pumpkin with second triple layer of paper towels and press firmly until paper towels are saturated. Discard the paper towels, and place the now drier pumpkin puree into a small bowl.

In stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or bowl scraper if you have it), beat the cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Add about one third of sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping bowl after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add heavy cream and  sour cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust.  Place your Springform pan into a roasting pan.  Pull your oven rack halfway out and place the roasting pan on to the oven rack.  (Your Springform pan should be wrapped with aluminum foil at this point.)  Slowly add the boiling water to the pan, until your Springform pan is covered 1/2 to 2/3 with hot water.  Slowly push your oven rack back into the oven. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours (see note) 90 minutes. Set roasting pan on wire rack and very, very slowly and gently run a thin spatula or knife around the outside of the cheesecake to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove Springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Garnish as desired.  Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving platter. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.


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