In preparation for Thanksgiving, I’m showcasing some of my favorite holiday recipes this month. Some of them are family recipes while others are my own creations but each of them always has a place on my dining room table. This fall I had the opportunity to be profiled by Albanian Living magazine as a part of their “traditional American Thanksgiving” article. All of the recipes I’m sharing were a part of that Thanksgiving table.
Pumpkin is the classic fall, and Thanksgiving flavor. Most people will probably immediately think of pumpkin pie when it comes to Thanksgiving dessert. Now I love a good pumpkin pie but sometimes it is nice to introduce a bit of variety to the table. After all, one of my favorite things to do is take classic flavors and ingredients and put a new spin on them. Hence, this pumpkin cheesecake adapted from Williams-Sonoma. I like to use gingersnap cookies for the crust but you can substitute an equal amount of graham crackers or other crumbly cookie. The recipe makes one large cheesecake which is perfect for a dinner table. If you are making these for a buffet table, as I often do, you can make individual cheesecakes which are much easier to serve to a crowd. Unless you have two pans, you will need to bake them individual cakes in two batches.
For the crust:
20 small gingersnap cookies
1/3 cup pecans
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.
- In a food processor, combine the gingersnaps and pecans and process until crumbly. Add the brown sugar and melted butter and pulse for a few seconds to blend.
- Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared pan. Use your fingers to pat the mixture into the bottom and evenly all the way up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
For the filling:
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon allspice
1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 Teaspoon ground cloves
1 pound cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree
- In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cloves.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Using a rubber spatula, occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Gradually add the brown sugar mixture, beating until smooth.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree, beating until smooth.
- Using the rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the chilled crust and smooth the top.
- Bake the cheesecake until set or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with whipped cream if desired.