Pumpkin pie gets more time in the spotlight than any other pumpkin dessert, but there are many delicious pumpkin options out there and this Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust is an excellent alternative to plain ol’ pie. The cheesecake combines the natural sweetness of pumpkin puree with the addictive tang of cream cheese, yielding a dessert that has a nice balance between the two and which has just the right touch of spice to make it a perfect option for any fall or winter occasion.
The crust of this cheesecake is made of gingersnap cookies. You can use any brand of crispy gingersnaps that you might have on hand, so long as they has some spice to them. In the event that you are fresh out of gingersnaps, you can substitute graham crackers and add in some addition spices to bring in the extra layer of flavor that you get from the gingersnaps. The crust is made in the food processor, then poured into a 9-inch springform pan and baked. The filling is also made in the food processor and it can be prepared while the crust is baking, since the filling is added to the pan while the crust is still warm from the oven. A food processor is a fantastic gadget for making cheesecake because it does such a good job of eliminating the lumps from the batter, guaranteeing a cake that is silky-smooth when it comes out of the oven.
The finished cheesecake is creamy and rich, yet feels less dense and not quite as heavy as some other cheesecakes. A restrained use of spices ensure that they compliment the pumpkin without overwhelming its flavor. While the filling might only be mildly spiced, the crust is not. The spicy crust – my gingersnaps had a bit of black pepper for some extra spice, in addition to a strong ginger flavor – is a nice contrast both in texture and flavor to the pumpkin filling. In short? It’s delicious and well worth a spot in your “must bake” pumpkin recipe list alongside pumpkin bread and classic pumpkin pie!
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
4 – 4.5 oz gingersnap cookies* (approx 1 1/4 cup crushed cookies)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Take out a 9-inch springform pan.
Make the crust: Process gingersnaps in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground. Add in all remaining ingredients and process until crumbs resemble wet sand. Transfer to 9-inch springform pan.
Spread crumbs evenly over the base of the pan and press down firmly to form an even layer.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is browned around the edges.
Make the filling: Prepare the filling while the crust is baking. Rinse out the food processor bowl or use a damp paper towel to remove all cookie crumbs. Combine all filling ingredients in the bowl and process for 2-3 minutes, or until mixture is smooth and well-combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl 2-3 times.
When crust is baked, pour the filling into the pan while it is still hot from the oven.
Lower the oven temperature to 325F and bake filling for 35-40 minutes, or until filling is set and jiggles only slightly when the pan is gently tapped.
Allow cheesecake to cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until ready to serve.
*If you don’t have gingersnaps, you can use graham crackers, but add in a 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon, 3/4 tsp ground ginger and a pinch of black pepper to give them some spice!