by Malia Kirby L.Ac.
An admission: I have been promising this recipe to one of my sorority sisters for a couple of months now…and now that it’s pumpkin season, it’s time to publish this puppy. Nicole, I hope it’s just in time for your holiday season and I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
A few comments:
Yes, you really DO need to remove excess moisture from the pumpkin, otherwise you’ll wind up with a runny cheesecake batter that doesn’t ever cook through. It’s a tip I learned from the people over at Cook’s Illustrated back in 2003, and it has served me well over the years.
Yes, you really DO need to mess with the water bath. Yes, it’s definitely a pain in the butt, but it will also help prevent the dreaded Grand Canyon crack down the center of your cheesecake, improving the aesthetic appearance and reducing your chances of overcooking it. While we’re at it, make sure you remove the cheesecake at the point where it is still wobbling. If it’s firm in the center when you remove it, I’m placing my bets that your dessert will do its best plumber butt impersonation at your Thanksgiving table. IF that happens, I would highly suggest using the Oops, I Goofed option listed at the bottom of the recipe. Crack happens, but it can be hidden.
Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Whipped Cream
Makes 1 9” cheesecake, serves 12-14
4 oz (approx. 1 c) ginger snap crumbs
2 oz (approx. ½ c) pecans, finely chopped
¼ c butter (or coconut oil), melted
15 oz pumpkin puree
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 c heavy cream
¼ c maple syrup
1 t vanilla extract
2 t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
½ t ground ginger
¼ t allspice
¼ t kosher salt
½ c packed brown sugar
1 ½ lbs (approx. 3 packages) cream cheese, room temperature & cut into 1” pieces
Bourbon Whipped Cream:
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 t confectioner’s sugar
2 T bourbon
1 c pecan halves
Make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F and adjust the rack to the middle position.
Place the ginger snap crumbs, pecans, and melted butter (or coconut oil) in a large bowl, stirring to combine. Gently press the mixture into the bottom of a 9” springform pan and midway up the sides. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes; remove from oven and place on a cooling rack until room temperature. Wrap the bottom of the springform pan with aluminum foil and reserve until ready for use.
Make the filling:
Reduce oven heat to 325°F.
Place 6 c water in a large saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.
Place a double layer of paper towels on a rimmed baking sheet, then gently spread the pumpkin puree over the paper towels. Place another double layer of paper towels over the pumpkin, then press down with your hands to remove excess moisture. Slowly peel the paper towels away from the pumpkin, then flip the bottom layers of paper towels to pumpkin-side down onto the baking sheet. Peel the remaining paper towels away from the pumpkin.
Whisk the pumpkin, eggs, cream, maple syrup, and vanilla together in a large bowl and reserve.
Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, then place the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, brown sugar, and cream cheese into the bowl and beat on low speed for 1 minute to break up the cream cheese, then beat on medium for 3 minutes until creamy and smooth, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Add 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture to the batter and beat for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, add another 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture and beat for another minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the remaining pumpkin mixture and beat until completely smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
Pour the filling into the crust, then place the foil-wrapped springform pan onto the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet onto the middle rack of the oven, then carefully pour the heated water into the baking sheet until the water comes midway up the sides of the pan (you may not use all of the water, depending on the size of your baking sheet). Bake at 325°F until the center of the cheesecake is slightly wobbly when the pan is gently shaken, approx. 1 ¼ - 1 ½ hours (start checking the cheesecake after one hour of baking). Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool in the waterbath until the water is cool enough to touch, then remove the cheesecake from the waterbath, discard the foil, and cool on a baking rack until completely cooled. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of four hours.
Make the bourbon whipped cream:
Chill a bowl in the refrigerator for one hour. Once the bowl has chilled, Pour the whipping cream, sugar, and bourbon into the bowl and beat on medium speed with a hand mixer until the cream just barely begins to form soft peaks. Reduce speed to medium low and beat to soft peaks.
Transfer the bourbon whipped cream to a pastry tube fitted with a star tip, then garnish the cheesecake with the whipped cream. Place one pecan half in the center of the whipped cream. Cut slices and serve with additional bourbon whipped cream on the side.
Oops, I Goofed
If you check on your cheesecake and find that the center is firm, here’s what how you’ll be able to cover that up if/when it cracks. Instead of making simple bourbon whipped cream, add 1 c of sour cream to the whipped cream ingredients and gently spread over the entire top of the cheesecake before refrigerating to chill completely. Garnish with whole pecan halves, then cut into serving slices.
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