THIS! This cheesecake. This pumpkin cheesecake! This, my friends, is what Thanksgiving dessert dreams are made of. We have pumpkin, and bourbon, and sea salt caramel, and toffee, and gingersnap cookie crust, all wrapped up IN A CHEESECAKE. Seriously, does it get any better?
I first made this cheesecake TEN years ago, whew. And I’ve been making it every Thanksgiving since. Twice: one for my side of the family and one for Matt’s side of the family.
Pumpkin Cheesecake: A New Tradition
I have to admit it was brave of me to bring a new dish to our family Thanksgiving. My side of the family is one of those families where the same recipes have been served since . . . well, like, ever.
But I was tired of pumpkin pie. Blasphemy, I know. The thing is that my sister loooves pumpkin pie, so I really had to up my game if I was going to win her over.
But do you know what else she loves? Cheesecake. Growing up, we made a cheesecake every Sunday evening. Yes, you read that right: Cheesecake. Every. Week. We didn’t grow up in house with a lot of rules, ahem.
A New Dessert Is Born
I knew I couldn’t go wrong with cheesecake as the base. Pumpkin pie spices were an obvious choice. We always make our cheesecakes with an extra-thick crust. Instead of the traditional graham, I chose one of her favorite cookies: ginger snaps.
Like a mad woman, I couldn’t just stop there. I topped it with her beloved chocolate toffee candy and sea salt caramel, which I’ve seen her sneak straight from the jar.
Finally, I added some bourbon for good measure, because what Wisconsin girl doesn’t love a bourbon ol’ fashioned? Not these two, that’s for sure.
And guess what? She liked it.
A couple years later, I met Matt’s family for the first time at Thanksgiving. And guess what? Yep, I brought this pumpkin cheesecake. They liked it too 🙂
And do you wana know a secret? It tastes even better the next morning. Yes, we eat cheesecake for breakfast. Think about it: you, fresh coffee, a good book, and pumpkin cheesecake, mmmkay? Yes, OK, I’m glad we are on the same page.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon & Sea Salt Caramel
- 2 cups ginger snap cookie crumbs
- 1/4 cup pecans finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled + extra for greasing pan
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons bourbon liqueur or bourbon optional
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 8- ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 8 ounces sour cream at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup crushed milk chocolate-toffee pieces
- Sea salt caramel sauce, homemade or store bought
- Put oven wrack in middle position and preheat oven to 350.
- Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
- To make crumbs, pulse gingersnap cookies, pecans, and sugar. Pour into medium bowl. Add butter and stir until well combined. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up side of pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
- Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and bourbon in a bowl until combined.
- Whisk together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in a separate bowl until combined.
- In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream at medium speed for 1 minute to break up and soften. Scrape beater and bowl. Add about one-third of sugar mixture and beat at medium about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining mixture in two additions, scraping bowl each time.
- Add Pumpkin mixture and beat at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl.
- Pour filling into crust, smoothing top. Lift and drop pan on counter to remove any trapped air bubbles. Put springform in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer rack and cool 5 minutes (leave oven on).
- Whisk together the sour cream, sugar, and bourbon in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Cool cheesecake complete.
- Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours. Top with toffee and drizzle with sea salt caramel sauce before serving.
Pumpkin Cheesecake: A Note on Pumpkins
If you’ve ever wanted to grow your own pumpkins for pumpkin purée, you know I’ve got you! Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin is the ultimate variety for silky-smooth texture. In fact, it took first place in Territorial Seed’s ‘pie class’ pumpkin taste-off for outstanding flavor and texture. It also a unique, netted skin, making it a stunning ornamental.
All the images here are of this variety. Ignore the Scotch Bonnet Peppers in the pic below. They have nothing to do with cheesecake, but I wanted you to get a peak of the gorgeous netting.
If you want canned pumpkin, my favorite is Libby’s Organic!