Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

It’s officially fall!  It’s chilly in the mornings and the sun goes down noticeably earlier, I’m wearing socks and sweatshirts and went to a football game on Friday night.  Yes, fall is definitely here.  And I love it.

Now that fall is here I have a free pass to break out all of my saved pumpkin recipes without feeling the need to justify myself to everyone.  I can burn my pumpkin-spice scented candles, buy apples and cinnamon in bulk and keep pumpkin-spice lattes on tap.

Today when I was stocking up on canned pumpkin puree, the guy at the checkout counter at the grocery store was totally judging me (yes, I realize that 12 cans is perhaps a lot of pumpkin puree, but does he not remember the pumpkin shortage from a couple of years ago??) but I didn’t even bother defending myself.  It’s fall.  I can buy as much pumpkin as I like.  I should be judging him because he doesn’t know that.

Actually, in retrospect he probably wasn’t judging me for buying a case of pumpkin puree.  His strange looks probably had more to do with my daughters doing somersaults on the concrete floor and madly clapping for each other in encouragement.  Hey, they weren’t hurting anyone, they weren’t in the way, and for once they weren’t begging for candy from the “let’s-torture-parents-everywhere-by-placing-candy-at-eye-level-of-small-children-impulse-section.”  If they want to do somersaults on the concrete, whatever.

Yep, I’m that Mom.

Please don’t stop reading my blog now.

I made you cheesecake.  With pumpkin in it.  And I promise if I ever see you in the grocery store, I won’t let my kids do gymnastics in front of you.  Promise.  Please keep reading.

I’ve made several pumpkin cheesecakes in the past few years and haven’t been smitten enough with any of them to share with you all.  That changed today.  Baking Illustrated came through again, and once again left me wondering why I didn’t just start with their recipe in the first place.  I did modify it slightly by adjusting some of the spice amounts and adding a bit of sour cream, but otherwise the recipe and method are all theirs.

This cheesecake tastes like pumpkin pie, but better.  It’s creamy and smooth and the spicy pumpkin flavor is evident in every bite.  The crust is buttery and crumbly, and just thick enough to stand up to the filling.

Amazing.  This is without a doubt my new favorite cheesecake.

As with most cheesecakes, this is not a dessert you want to start late at night.  It takes a few steps to prep it, and it has to bake for 90 minutes – but that’s not even all of it. After it bakes, it needs nearly four hours of cooling on the counter top time, and then needs to chill in the refrigerator.  You’ll definitely need to plan ahead for this one – try make it the day before you need it for best results.

This particular cheesecake is also baked in a water bath.  I’ve had good experiences with cheesecakes baked with water baths and without water baths, so my advice is to just follow what the recipe suggests. 

The other thing to note about this recipe is that it calls for pumpkin puree that has been leeched of its extra water – which is much easier than it sounds.  You’ll simply spread the puree over a few layers of paper towels, lay another couple of layers on top then soak up some of the excess moisture.

All in all, this is an easy recipe.  It is time consuming and has lots of steps, but just take them one at a time and you’ll be rewarded with an AWESOME cheesecake.


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Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
Prep time
Cook time
All of the best flavors of fall are baked right into this delicious cheesecake. Recipe source: Adapted from My Food Affair via Baking Illustrated
Serves: Approximately 16 servings
Crust Ingredients:
  • 5 ounces crushed graham crackers (by weight)
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 and ⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh if possible)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
  • 24 ounces cream cheese (3 packages), room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ cup heavy cream or half and half
  • ½ cup sour cream
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. 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 ⅔ of the way up the sides of the pan. Set aside.
  3. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and spices in a small bowl and whisk together.
  4. Add the melted butter, and mix with a fork until evenly moistened.
  5. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and gently shake the pan to evenly distribute the crumbs.
  6. Using drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan.
  7. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes.
  8. Cool on wire rack while making filling.
  1. Bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in a tea pot or stockpot.
  2. Whisk sugar, spices, and salt together in small bowl and set aside.
  3. Then, dry the pumpkin puree: line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels.
  4. Spread pumpkin on paper towels in roughly even layer.
  5. Cover pumpkin with second triple layer of paper towels and press firmly until paper towels are saturated.
  6. Discard the paper towels, and place the now drier pumpkin puree into a small bowl.
  7. 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.
  8. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
  9. 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.
  10. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl.
  11. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl.
  12. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl.
  13. 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.
  14. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.
  15. Place your Springform pan into a roasting pan.
  16. 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.)
  17. Slowly add the boiling water to the pan, until your Springform pan is covered ½ to ⅔ with hot water.
  18. Slowly push your oven rack back into the oven.
  19. 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 1½ hours (see note) 90 minutes.
  20. 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.
  21. Cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes.
  22. Remove Springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours.
  23. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
  24. Garnish as desired. We used whipping cream, pecan halves and a caramel drizzle.
  25. Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving platter.
  26. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

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