Cheesecake and I were not always the best of friends. If it wasn’t one this or another but I could just never get it right. My crust would fall apart. The top cracked. The water bath leaked into the spring form pan. The cheesecake contorted after I unmolded. You name it and it happened.
I recently decided I’d give it another try and this one was for all the marbles. If it didn’t work out, my quest for cheesecake perfection was over.
Along the way I learned a few things, which as you can see resulted in one stunning cheesecake. The individual steps of making cheesecake are not at all difficult. But the process requires tons of patience and restrain.
First, I realized that I had to wrap my spring form pan in a piece of aluminum foil that was bigger than the pan itself. In other words, you shouldn’t have to use two pieces. Because that leaves room for water from the bath to seep in and ruin the bottom of your cheesecake. My solution for this (since I had a bigger pan) was to use heavy duty aluminum, which normally comes in a larger sized roll.
I also realized that I wasn’t getting intimate with the crumbs of my crust. It’s important for you to use your hands and really press them into the bottom of the pan. And depending on how much you have, you may also have to press some crumbs up the side of the pan.
The part of exercising patience and restrain comes in after the cheesecake starts to bake. Don’t “check” it a zillion times, as opening the oven so often will affect the temperature the cheesecake bakes. But don’t leave it in there longer than necessary. I checked mine after an hour. It had a slight jiggle but was no longer liquid in the center. That was my cue to take it out of the oven.
I let the cheesecake cool completely on my counter before I unmolded it. This part is super super hard but it extremely important. But even more difficult is that even after you unmold it, you still can’t dig into it because then it has to finish setting in the fridge for a while, preferably over night.
All of this due diligence and waiting paid off in the end as this creation turned out to be what cheesecake dreams are made of. For a while all I did was stare at it. I couldn’t believe I created it. And the taste was phenomenal – sweet, tart, cheesey, pumpkiny, spicy, crunchy.
Give this or another cheesecake recipe a try this coming weekend. The end result will make you pretty darn happy and proud of yourself.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
For The Crust
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 9 ounces)
1 cup pecans (about 3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For The Filling
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
5 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
For The Crust - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Grind cookie crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, and ginger in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and pulse to blend. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of pan. Bake crust until set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool completely before adding the filling.
For The Filling - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in pumpkin. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating on low speed to incorporate each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
Add the flour mixture and beat just to blend. Transfer filling to cooled crust. Bake until filling is just set in center and edges begin to crack (filling will move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool the cheesecake completely (about 1 hour). Run knife around sides of pan to release crust. Chill cheesecake uncovered in pan overnight.