This always surprises people, but I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. And like a lot of people who share that opinion, it’s not so much a taste issue for me as it is a texture one. While I don’t care for pumpkin pie, I adore just about anything else pumpkin flavored including pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin bread, pumpkin tarts, pumpkin sauce , ooh, pumpkin pie Blizzards, pumpkin candles (not to eat, to smell) you name it. So pumpkin cheesecake is my dessert of choice on Thanksgiving. It’s a good alternative to pie, and it’s great because it needs to be made ahead of time – forcing you to plan ahead! This Pumpkin cheesecake has all the right spices, a pecan-gingersnap crust, and a caramel topping.
Ingredients and Equipment Notes
- A note about water baths – While cheesecake enthusiasts will tell you it’s essential to always use one, from my experience, some cheesecakes do okay without them (like this Creamy Cheesecake) and others really need them to turn out well. I think it depends on the recipe. This one needs a water bath.
- Roasting Pan – You will need a roasting pan to create a successful a water bath.
- Springform Cheesecake Pan – I love my springform cheesecake pan, so grab one of those as well if you don’t have one already. This recipe is designed for a 9″ pan.
- Heavy Duty Foil – Nobody wants a soggy cheesecake! Heavy duty foil wrapped around the bottom of your springform pan will prevent the water bath from working it’s way in.
- Heat Proof Pitcher or Glass Measuring Cup – You’ll need some hot water for the water bath. Before you get started, make sure you have a good way to transfer the hot water to the roasting pan- a large glass measuring cup, electric kettle, or even a ladle, if necessary.
- Cream Cheese – Regular or low fat is fine. Avoid fat free.
- Gingersnaps – The crust of this cheesecake is made from gingersnap cookies. Get these on the cookie aisle or look for them in seasonal displays, just be sure you are getting the crunchy kind, not soft ginger cookies from the bakery.
- Whipping Cream – Regular or heavy will both work. Heavy whipping cream will hold it’s shape a little better over time.
- Start some water boiling for your water bath. You’ll need enough to fill your roasting pan 1 1/2 to 2 inches.
- The crust is one of my favorite parts: a mix of gingersnap cookies and pecans. First, crush the gingersnaps and then pecans in a food processor. We’ll mix those with some butter and brown sugar and press evenly into a 9″ springform pan, extending up the sides about 1 inch.
- Next, melt some white chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, until smooth. While that’s cooling, we’ll mix up some softened cream cheese, sugar and eggs. Then add pumpkin puree, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Lastly, mix in that white chocolate and pour the filling mixture onto the prepared crust.
- Next comes the water bath. Wrap the bottom of your springform pan in several layers of heavy duty foil to keep water out of your springform pan. Place your cheesecake in a roasting pan and place in preheated oven. Carefully fill the roasting pan with hot water, about half way up the sides of your cheesecake pan.
- Close the oven door and bake. Start with 60 minutes and take a peek. Continue baking, if needed, up to about 75 minutes. The center should be just a tad bit jiggly still. It will finish cooking while cooling. When it’s done, remove from oven and water bath and place on a rack until completely cool. Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours. This is a very soft cheesecake so sufficient chilling is a must!
- When ready to serve spread sweetened whipped cream on top, drizzle caramel sauce over it, and sprinkle with pecans, if desired.
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- What happens if I don’t use a water bath? The purpose of a water bath is to ensure the entire cheesecake comes to temperature and cooks evenly. Without it, the outside of the cheesecake will likely be overdone while you are waiting for the middle to set up. It is also more likely to crack without a water bath.
- I see this cheesecake needs a long time in the fridge. How far ahead of time can I make it? Make the cheesecake up to 48 hours in advance. Leave it in the springform pan after cooling. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and add the toppings right before serving.
Did You Make This?
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A long-time reader favorite! This creamy pumpkin cheesecake, topped with whipped cream, caramel, and pecans (optional) is a great alternative to pumpkin pie.
1 3/4 cups gingersnap crumbs (about 30 small cookies)
6 tablespoons real butter, melted
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup ground pecans
3 8-ounce blocks cream cheese
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
6 ounces melted white chocolate (that’s about 1 cup white chocolate chips)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup whipping cream, beat with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 4 tablespoons powdered sugar until medium peaks form
1/3 cup roughly chopped pecans, either toasted or caramelized
2 tablespoons jarred caramel sauce
- Preheat oven to 350. Start water boiling, enough to fill your roasting pas 1 1/2 to 2 inches.
- For the crust, Use a food processor to crush gingersnaps. Then do pecans. Combine gingersnaps, pecans, brown sugar, and butter and stir well to combine. Press into a 9″ spring form pan. Evenly spread across the bottom of pan and up the sides about 1 inch.
- To melt chocolate, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. Set aside. With an electric mixer beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. With the mixer running, slowly add in white chocolate in a steady stream (or steady blobs). Pour mixture on top of the crust.
- For the water bath, place cheesecake pan inside your roasting pan. The larger pan should be at least 2-3 inches in depth. Place in pre-heated oven. With a kettle or pitcher filled with hot water, pour water into the larger pan about halfway up, or approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches.
- Bake for 60-75 minutes or until set. The center should be just a tad bit jiggly still. It will finish cooking while cooling.
- When it’s done, remove from oven and place on a rack until completely cool. Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours. This is a very soft cheesecake so sufficient chilling is a must!
- When ready to serve spread sweetened whipped cream on top, drizzle caramel sauce over it, and sprinkle with pecans.