There are only three reasons why I would post a recipe more than once here. One, I’ve modified the ingredients or the directions. Two, it’s something that is worthy of being showcased more than once. Three, my pictures of it sort of sucked. This pumpkin cheesecake fits the first two criteria, so you’re getting a redux. 🙂
I first shared this recipe back in 2017. My husband found it at least 14 years ago and we’ve been making it ever since. We’ve never tried any other pumpkin cheesecake recipe because this one is pure perfection. It tastes amazing. Think about the flavors of a traditional pumpkin pie plus cheesecake. Even those who don’t like regular cheesecake love this pumpkin version.
It has a great cheesecake to crust ratio. (Although I’m sure that my husband would say that it should have at least 2 times more crust because graham cracker crust is awesome.)
Now here’s what’s changed in 5 years. I now bake this pumpkin cheesecake in a water bath (or a bain-marie). If you’ve never heard of this technique before, you are essentially placing your cheesecake pan into a bigger pan with some water in it. It’s supposed to help bake the cheesecake more consistently. This results in a smaller temperature change as far as the cheesecake is concerned which in turn means that its delicate structure stays delicate. Remember, our ovens are constantly turning “on” and “off” whole you’re baking to regulate the temperature inside. That slight variation can be enough to throw off baking delicate desserts like cheesecakes, custards or soufflés.
The below is a photo of a pumpkin cheesecake when I did not use a water bath to bake it. I assure you it was still delicious even though it wasn’t as pretty as I would have liked it to be.
Compare that to a photo (below) of the pumpkin cheesecake when I did use a water bath to bake it. Ignore that one is more orange in color because that is due to the pumpkin puree or different natural light of when the photo was taken or both (which won’t be fixed with a water bath). Focus on how the top of the cheesecake looks. “Can’t see the line, can you, Russ.” There are no cracks and it has an even color (not brown on just the outer rim). I’d say the water bath method is a success. Now I’m not saying that you’ll get the perfect looking cheesecake every time (because the oven gods have other plans) but I can say that this method will give you a way better shot at a prettier cheesecake.
Are these extra steps kind of a pain? Maybe. Is it worth it? To me, yes. To my husband, no. It’s probably not worth the extra fuss for the same delicious tasting cheesecake. To each is own, so you decide. Which way do you prefer?
Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe
(Makes a 9 inch cheesecake)
- 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.
- Grease a 9 inch springform pan and set it aside.
- 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.
- Wrap the outside of the cooled pan in tin foil. You’re trying to make a sort of protective foil bowl that the pan is sitting in. That means you can’t have any overlaps or seams in the foil. This should help to keep the water from the bath from getting into the pan and making your crust weird.
- 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.
- Place the cheesecake in its springform pan wrapped in tin foil into a larger pan and add about 1 inch of hot water to the OUTER pan. (I realize that’s probably obvious, but don’t pour water into your cheesecake filling, it doesn’t make good soup.)
- 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. 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 to slowly cool.
- Take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool the rest of the way 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.
Adapted from: Chowhound (The website this came from no longer exists but I still want to give credit where credit is due.)
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