Recipes

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

By Enrique Gili
November 15, 2015, 2:12 p.m.
Pumpkin cheesecake topped with pecans in a cast iron pan
All things pumpkin are in full swing this time of year (Photo: Enrique Gili)

About This Dish

The end of the harvest season means pumpkin and all things pumpkin-flavored are having a moment in the sun. So why not splurge on a dessert that brings that flavor to your table? Spiced pumpkin cheesecake merges two classics into one flavorful dessert.

In a break from the norm, I used a cast-iron skillet rather than a spring-form pan to bake this dessert. Why? Skillets tend to heat food evenly, so the cracking that often mars the surface of cheesecake is less likely to occur. Plus, the rustic presentation is appealing for a casual dinner without being too fussy.

By using reduced fat cream cheese and eschewing heavy cream as ingredients, this cheesecake contains about half the calories but still tastes rich — so much so that a small wedge of this dense cheesecake is all you need for dessert, with or without the bourbon pecan topping.

Prep Time
Total Time
Yield
1 pie
Equipment
  1. 1 large mixing bowl
  2. 9-inch cast iron skillet
  3. Saucepan or skillet
  4. Food processor
  5. Wooden spoon or rubber spatula
  6. Wire rack or cutting board
Ingredients
  1. 20 ginger snap cookies (about 1.5 cups)
  2. 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, melted
  3. 1 ounce white cane sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  5. 24 ounces light cream cheese at room temperature
  6. 34 cup white cane sugar
  7. 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  8. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  9. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  10. 14 teaspoon nutmeg
  11. 14 teaspoon allspice
  12. 4 eggs
  13. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  14. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  15. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  16. 1 ounce bourbon
  17. 1 cup pecan halves
  18. 1 ounce brown sugar
  19. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  20. Pinch of salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Break ginger snaps into pieces and pulse in a food processor until ground fine. Add melted butter, sugar and ginger. Pulse a few more times until the ingredients are combined. Then press mixture into the bottom of 9-inch skillet and along sides. Place skillet on middle rack and bake for 10 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, make cheesecake batter. In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese with sugar and stir ingredients until peaks form, about 2 minutes. Then add pumpkin puree and stir until blended, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle spices into mixing bowl, stirring as you go, about 1 minute. Then crack eggs one by one into bowl stirring whites and yolks into the batter. Lastly, add flour and vanilla extract and stir again.
  4. Pour batter onto piecrust. Place skillet on the center rack and bake for 40 minutes. The edges of the cheesecake should be firm while the center is jiggly. Close oven, turn off heat and allow cheesecake to cool inside oven for at least one hour. Then, place cheesecake on counter atop wire rack until handle of skillet is warm to the touch and then refrigerate overnight.
  5. For the topping, melt butter in saucepan. Then add bourbon, moving pan side-to-side to combine. Place pecan halves in pan and toast until fragrant, stirring frequently to avoid burning, about 5 minutes. Then add sugar, cinnamon and salt and stir to ensure an even coating. Remove from heat and allow pecans to cool, about 5 minutes. Add half the pecans to a food processor set to pulse. Whiz a few times until crumbled. Sprinkle pecan halves and bits on cheesecake, plate and serve. Save the remaining pecans for snacks.