The Perfect Pumpkin Cheesecake Tracy McElroy November 21, 2014 DIY, RECIPES Saving room for dessert is mandatory when pumpkin cheesecake is involved. We dare you to try to eat just one slice of this rich, creamy, delicious, and buttery cheesecake. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Crust: 9 whole graham crackers 6 tablespoons butter, melted 2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon ground ginger ¼ teaspoon ground cloves 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon fine ground pepper ½ teaspoon salt Filling: 1 ½ pounds cream cheese broken into pieces and allowed to soften ½ c + 1 tablespoon white sugar ½ c + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar 1 (15-ounce) can of pureed pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground ginger ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground cloves ¼ teaspoon ground allspice ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg ¼ teaspoon fine ground pepper 1 tablespoon brandy 1 tablespoon vanilla 1 cup heavy cream 5 large eggs 1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 2. Prep a springform pan by wrapping bottom and sides with 2 layers of foil. Handle gently to avoid holes. 3. Prepare a water bath by boiling about a quart of water and lay an old dish towel in the bottom of a large cake pan or roasting pan. Keep the boiling water to the side until needed. For the Crust: 1. Break graham crackers into pieces and add to a food processor. Pulse until the graham crackers are broken into small pieces. Then let the processor run until the graham crackers turn into a fine dust. 2. Add butter, brown sugar, and spices. Toss with a fork until well blended and crumbs are evenly coated, making sure to get rid of any lumps. Press mixture into the springform pan on the bottom and sides, with the mixture being ¼ inch thick on the bottom and thinner on the sides. 3. Bake until the edges are golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Let cool. For the Filling: 1. Prepare the pumpkin puree by spreading it onto several layers of paper towels and letting it drain for a few minutes. Don’t skip this step because it rids the puree of excess water, leaving a more concentrated pumpkin flavor for the finished product. 2. While the puree is draining, combine the sugar and softened cream cheese until well blended with no lumps. Be sure to scrape the bowl often in steps 3-6 to ensure all ingredients are combined well. 3. Add spices, vanilla, and brandy to the sugar mixture and blend. 4. Fold in the drained pumpkin puree and mix well. 5. Incorporate the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each. 6. Pour in the heavy cream and mix until all ingredients are blended. 7. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and add boiling water around it until the roasting pan is filled halfway up the side of the springform pan. 8. Pour filling into the crust. Swirl a knife through to even the filling out and get rid of bubbles. Gently and carefully place the pan in the oven. Bake for 1 ½ hours until the center is set, checking periodically to make sure the edges are losing their shine and becoming matte. 9. Leave the pan in the oven with the door propped open until the water bath becomes lukewarm. Take the pan out of the oven and remove the cake from the water bath, allowing it to cool on a cooling rack until it reaches room temperature. 10. Once cooled, gently unlatch the springform and let it sit for a few minutes. Then latch the springform again and place it in the refrigerator until dessert time. For more delicious ideas, visit our Recipes page.