Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe: It’s Simply ‘Gourd’eous!


November 20, 2012 by Decorum DIYer

Sorry, you know me, I can’t have a post title without some corny pun.

I think it may be a disorder that I have.

Well, Thanksgiving is fast approaching and every year I am practically begged by my sister and mother to make my pumpkin cheesecake recipe.  Well, it isn’t my pumpkin cheesecake recipe, as it is America’s Test Kitchen‘s recipe, but it is the recipe I use.

If you plan to make this cheesecake for Thanksgiving, which I insist that you do, you may want to prepare it one to three days in advance.  It is a simple, but the baking/chilling time is lengthy.


from Cook’s Illustrated via America’s Test Kitchen on PBS

Depending upon the oven and the temperature of the ingredients, the cheesecake may bake about 15 minutes faster or slower than the instructions indicate; it is therefore best to check the cake 1 1/4 hours into baking.  Although the cheesecake can be made up to three days in advance, the crust will begin to lose its crispness after only one day.  To make slicing the cheesecake easy and neat, use a knife with a narrow blade, such as a carving knife; between cuts, dip the blade into a pitcher of hot water and wipe it clean with paper towels.

Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 12 to 16

Special items you will need:

  • one, 9-inch springform pan
  • one deep roasting pan large enough to accommodate the springform pan
  • stand mixer (although, I guess you could use a hand-held mixer)
  • food processor


3 ounces graham crackers (5 whole crackers), broken into large pieces

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 ounces pecans, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 table salt

1 can pumpkin (15 ounces)

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks and left to soften at room temperature, about 30 minutes

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 large eggs, left at room temperature, about 30 minutes

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup bourbon (I only use about 1 tablespoon, I am not a big fan of hard liquor, although the alcohol bakes out, the full 1/4 cup still has a taste too strong for me.)

  1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees (F).  Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with non-stick cooking spray.  Pulse crackers, nuts, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses.  Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened.  Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and , using hand, spread crumbs into even layer.  Using flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan.  Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes.  Cool on wire rack while making filling.  (The crust baking in the oven smells amazing!)
  2. FOR THE FILLING: Bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in stockpot.  Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside.  To dry pumpkin: line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels (or kitchen 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.  Peel back top layer of towels and discard.  (You may need to repeat this process to completely remove excess moisture.)  Grasp bottom towels and fold pumpkin in half; peel back towels.  Repeat and flip pumpkin onto baking sheet; discard towels.
  3. In a standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute.  Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well 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 and vanilla 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 bourbon 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.
  4. Set springform pan with cooled crust on 18-inch-square doubled layer heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan.  Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan.  Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees (F) on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours.  Set roasting pan on wire rack and use paring knife to loosen cake from sides of 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, of up to 3 days.
  5. TO SERVE:  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.

I hope you enjoy baking and this recipe.  It really is delicious.

A little back story, I was pregnant with my first child when I saw this recipe prepared on America’s Test Kitchen.  At the time, I didn’t like pumpkin pie, nor cheesecake, so pumpkin cheesecake did not interest me.  However, upon seeing the pumpkin cheesecake, my mouth watered and I knew I wanted to at least try to make and taste the pumpkin cheesecake.  As a bonus, the crust smells marvelous when baking in the oven!

I am so glad I gave this recipe a try.  I absolutely love making and eating it every year.  I also love preparing it for my loved ones.  It really is a great addition to the Thanksgiving spread.


4 thoughts on “Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe: It’s Simply ‘Gourd’eous!

  1. Did you know I was going to ask you for the recipe this year? Thanks!

    • You are quite welcome! I’m bringing it to our family feast. Are you making it for your side’s festivities? Also, I’ve made them as mini cupcake cheesecakes. It is a bit more tedious, but everyone can get a taste and not feel so guilty. 🙂 Good luck!

  2. Yum!!! This sounds amazing, love your comment about making them as mini cupcakes. I bet that would be equally terrific..and you get extra crust that way which is the best part. 🙂 Putting this one on this list!

    • When preparing for a large crowd, the mini cupcakes size makes more sense and there is less waste. I am happy that little ones want to at least try pumpkin cheesecake, but get a little bummed when an entire slice is wasted. As this is a cheesecake, it is very rich, so the mini cupcakes are appropriate in some situations. I’ve thought about adding a bit of whipped cream, a toasted pumpkin seed, and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top of each cupcake for both looks and flavor.

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