This Pumpkin Cheesecake is highlighted by an out of this world Salted Caramel sauce. As if that weren't enough it is easy to put together with all the flavors of the season.
The most frustrating part of cheesecakes is the possibility of their cracking.
Most of my cheesecakes at the bakery were baked at 350°F. After the specified time for baking, the ovens were turned off and the cheesecakes sat in the ovens for another specified amount of time, usually the same amount as they baked.
To help ensure a crack-free surface for this Pumpkin Cheesecake, I took it one step further and propped the door open for a short amount of time. This slow cooling helps prevent a drastic change in temperature which can cause cracking.
I have recently discovered that cheesecakes mixed in a processor have a better texture than those combined in a mixer. And, while I follow this practice if you don't have a food processor, a mixer is fine. No change in directions in needed, just substitute the word mixer for the word processor.
One of the biggest kitchen aids is disposable vinyl kitchen gloves. I use them for all kind of tasks but they come in particularly handy when mixing the crumb crust. The fork can only do so much but mixing the ingredients with your hand it the only way I know to completely moisten all the crumbs with butter evenly.
Lastly, there is an acceptable variance in the temperature of the finished sauce. The lower the temperature of the finished sauce, the thinner it will be. Having said that, the sauce will thicken upon cooling. The sauce on the picture was cooked to 220°F which makes a pretty thick sauce. I microwaved it slightly to loosen it before adding it to the cheesecake. The amount of salt added is also variable according to taste. I like a little, others prefer more. If you don't like any, omit it.
This Pumpkin Cheesecake is a perfect fall dessert no matter what the occasion. It can also be frozen and thawed in the refrigerator. The sauce can be made a week ahead so there is actually no work involved for whenever it is needed.
Salted Caramel Sauce– using the ingredients listed below, go here for how to photos.
½ cup water
2 cups sugar (400 grams or 14 ounces)
¼ cup light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (60 grams or 2 ounces)
1 cup 40% or heavy cream
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon +1 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cup pecan halves or pieces
In a heavy saucepan that is at least 4 times as big as the ingredients, place the water, sugar and corn syrup.
Bring to a boil, stirring until it comes to a full boil. Boil until it becomes a deep golden color.
Remove from the heat immediately and add the butter; stir to melt. Add the cream very carefully as it will boil up furiously. Lastly, add the salt and vanilla.
Place back over the heat, bring it back to a boil and cook to a temperature of anywhere from 215°F to 220°F.
Immediately, remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. Pour into a container and let it cool. Do not stir again after adding the pecans until using.
Store at room temperature for several days or hold longer in the refrigerator.
Makes about 2 cups. You will most likely have sauce left over, unless, like me, you eat it as is. It is also superb on ice cream or pound cake.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Crust1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs* (130 grams or 4 ½ ounces)
¼ cup packed brown sugar (50 grams or 1 ¾ ounces)
½ stick butter, melted (60 grams or 2 ounces)
*If you don’t buy crumbs pre-crushed, crush graham crackers between your hands and add them to the processor bowl. Process to make crumbs. Wipe processor bowl clean.
Preheat oven and spray the bottom of 9x3 inch cheesecake pan or springform pan with cooking spray. Wrap the pan in foil as I did here. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the crumbs and brown sugar in large bowl. Mix completely. Add the butter and stir with a fork until all of the crumbs moistened. I use a gloved hand for the final mixing of the crumbs to evenly distribute the butter. Pour the crumbs into the pan and press in firmly with the heel of your hand. Bake for 10 minutes; remove from oven.
Pumpkin Cheesecake3 eggs
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin (340 grams or 12 ounces)
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ cup packed brown sugar (100 grams or 3 ½ ounces)
3 – 8 ounce packages regular cream cheese, room temperature (680 grams or 24 ounces)
½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams or 3 ½ ounces)
2 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla
Whisk the eggs until mixed. Add the pumpkin and whisk to combine. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, cloves, and brown sugar. Whisk well and set aside.
Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a processor. Process, scraping several times until smooth. Add the granulated sugar, cream, cornstarch, and vanilla. Process to mix, scraping down several times. Add the pumpkin mixture to the processor and process, scraping several times.
If you struggle with getting all the mixture out of the bowl, pour as much as possible over the crust in the cheesecake pan. Return the bowl and blade to the processor. Pulse several times and the blade will come clean. Remove the blade and scrape the remaining cheesecake into the pan. Smooth the top.
Water bath the cheesecake by placing it in a slightly larger pan. Place on a rimmed pan such as a half sheet pan. This makes it much safer to move in and out of the oven. Don’t put it in a deep pan as you want the heat to go around the pan. Place it in the oven and fill the larger pan with water.
Bake for 35 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for another 35 minutes. At the end of this time, prop the door open by inserting a wooden spoon or another utensil in between the oven and the door. It should be open about 1 inch or so. A little more or less doesn’t matter. After 15 minutes, remove the tray with the cheesecake.
Carefully, lift the Pumpkin Cheesecake out of the water bath and allow it to cool completely. Place it in the refrigerator overnight.