There was a day when I didn’t care about cracks on top of a cheesecake.
My husband has made this pumpkin cheesecake a few times (before my blogging days) and we’re pretty confident that it cracked then too and yet we continued to make it again and again. Why? It’s out of this world delicious. We loved it. Our families loved it. We’ve never made any other kind of pumpkin cheesecake because there is no need to try any other when you’ve found one that tastes as good as this one. Plus, it’s easy to make.
I debated on whether to share this recipe with you today for the sole reason that it has the large, in your face, you can’t miss it, crater on top. Maybe I should work on the baking technique that prevents (or minimizes) the cracking before sharing the recipe with you. Is that a high standard that I put on myself? Maybe. Maybe not.
I also think that we judge a book by its cover and the photo below is ugly. I’m embarrassed to show you photo since it doesn’t look “picture perfect”. I don’t know if you’re the kind of reader that will be turned off by seeing cracks in a cheesecake. I shared the below photo and the recipe with a friend before posting and she still wants to make it. Perhaps my indecisiveness is a result of me being overly critical on my photos.
I thought about covering the outer edge with dollops of whipped cream in my photos to hide the imperfections but I did not do that for a couple of reasons. I feel like that is kind of deceiving. You may or may not get cracks and I don’t want you to think that you did something wrong if you see cracks on yours but they were mysteriously missing from mine. I’d rather always be honest and upfront with you because I’m not here to sell anything. I’m just a girl who likes to cook and share stuff that I love with you. I will say that if I was serving this to guests then I would use the whipped cream trick for presentation purposes. Or I might cut the cheesecake in the kitchen and prepare each slice with a little decoration. I’d serve a piece, with whipped cream, caramel sauce, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. A little trickery among friends and family is totally acceptable (and I’d definitely give them the heads up on potential cracking on top… maybe… if they asked). 😉
This cheesecake is destined to be on the Thanksgiving table tomorrow and needs to survive a 3 and 1/2 hour drive so whipped cream on top of the whole thing is not an option. If you don’t know, whipped cream deflates over time and gets yucky looking. I had to keep adding more to the slice in these shots because it kept hunkering down. Plus it was mad cloudy today which is very difficult to deal with when I only use natural light to take my pictures. I think I deserve a freaking metal for putting up with all these obstacles with this pumpkin cheesecake today. Maybe I’m being a bit of a drama queen, but in the end anything this delicious is worth it.
I ultimately decided to share this recipe today because my friends (including some of my fellow food blogger friends) and family encouraged me to share it. This is real life. Cheesecakes get cracks on top. If it’s tasty then share it. I thank you for your words of encouragement.
My husband has encouraged me to take on a challenge. I will make this pumpkin cheesecake again (because it’s freaking good) and I will try a different baking method to see if I can avoid the cracking. A few years ago I made a chocolate hazelnut cheesecake and it had zero cracks. I baked that cheesecake using a water bath technique, which to be honest with you, is kind of a pain. But I’m on a mission now. If you don’t care about possibly getting cracks on top and you want to follow easy directions, then see below. If you want a crack free top or are curious to see what the water bath does for this recipe, then stay tuned (although as a heads up, it may be next year before you see it because I’ll be heading into a Christmas cookie baking frenzy after this weekend and no one is looking for pumpkin recipes in the new year.)
Have a Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for all my readers!
Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe
(About 12 servings)
- 1 and 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs (equivalent to about 12 full sheets of graham crackers)
- 2 tablespoon white sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 16 ounces cream cheese (equivalent to two 8 ounce packages), softened to room temperature
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese (I used low fat or part skim.)
- 1 and 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling.)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use cooking spray to lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan. (I got mine in a little set.)
- In a food processor, blend the graham crackers until they are fine crumbs.
- Add the white sugar and drizzle in the melted butter. Blend until all of the ingredients are combined.
- Press the graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and about 2/3 of the way up the sides. I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup to help pack the crumbs down firmly.
- Bake the crust in the preheated oven for 8 minutes.
- Allow the crust to cool.
- To make the filling, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and ricotta cheese until the mixture is smooth and creamy. (About 2 minutes on medium speed.) Make sure that the cream cheese is at room temperature.
- Add in the pumpkin puree and beat it well.
- Add in the light brown sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla extract, and beat well.
- Add in the eggs, one egg at a time and beat until blended after each one.
- Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
- Bake it for about 75 minutes in the preheated oven. When the cheesecake is done it will have a 2 to 3 inch wobbly area in the center of the cake. Don’t worry, it will set as it cools.
- Turn off the oven, open the oven door a little bit, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 1 hour.
- Take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature on a wire rack on the counter.
- Then chill it in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours. (I chilled it overnight.)
- When you are ready to serve it, loosen the cheesecake from the rim of the pan and remove the outer rim.
- (Optional) Serve it with whipped cream and caramel sauce.
- Store leftover pieces in the fridge.
Adapted from: Chowhound