(WWTI) – Cheesecake gets that pumpkin spice treatment, it’s National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day.
Ancient Greeks were responsible for the earliest form of cheesecake around the 5th century B.C. which consisted of cheese pounded with honey and flour then cooked on an old-timey griddle. The cheesecake was then improved upon in late medieval England, where it emerged with a tart-like pastry base. Given its popularity in England, cheesecake soon made an appearance in the American colonies. American cheesecake truly took a new form when cream cheese was introduced, it made the base creamier and sturdier than it had ever been before. This new and improved cheesecake became very popular in the 1930s when Arnold Reuben introduced the ‘New York cheesecake’ to the city.
Bakers went on to experiment with an endless array of different flavorings and toppings — blueberry, strawberry, chocolate — and eventually, the pumpkin cheesecake was born.
Gingersnap Cookie Crust:
- 1 and 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs*
- 1/4 teaspoon each: ground ginger and ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 32 ounces full-fat brick cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup pumpkin puree*
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice*
- topping suggestions: salted caramel and whipped cream
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Make the crust:
- Using a food processor, pulse the gingersnap cookies into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in ginger, cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter until combined. The mixture will be sandy.
- Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly.
- Pre-bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath in step 4. Allow the crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
Make the filling:
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract, then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can.
- Scoop out 2 cups of batter and place in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the pumpkin, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice until combined. Begin adding spoonfuls of each batter, the plain and the pumpkin, on top of the crust. Alternate until all the batter is used and the pan is filled. Using a toothpick or knife, swirl the batters together by dragging the toothpick from top to bottom, then left to right.
- Prepare the simple water bath: If you need a visual, watch me prepare a water bath using my cheesecake recipe. Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. I use an entire kettle of hot water. As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place it in the oven.
- Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 1 hour as it cools down. Remove cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Add toppings, if desired. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip it into warm water between each slice.
- Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Happy National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!