Monday, June 4, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Yesterday was Justin's birthday, and it's sort of become tradition for me to bake him a cheesecake. The other day I found a recipe for a what I thought would be a great autumn cheesecake, but when I told Justin about it, his eyes glazed over and he started to drool a bit. I knew then that this would have to be his birthday cheesecake. So much for waiting for fall!

I made very few adaptations to the original recipe, though I added the cinnamon whipped cream. I can't tell you from experience how good this cheesecake is because, well, I don't like pumpkin--even the smell grosses me out--but Justin's had three pieces today, so I think that speaks for itself.

If you haven't made cheesecake before, it's actually really easy, and your results will be even better if you follow a few pieces of advice. Use regular cream cheese, not reduced fat. Bring all of your ingredients for the filling to room temperature before you begin. For this recipe, this includes the cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream (and the bourbon if you store it in the fridge or freezer). Don't overbeat your ingredients; mix them until they are just combined and then stop.

The best way to bake a cheesecake is in a water bath. It's not necessary, but it helps to prevent the top of your cheesecake from cracking, which makes for an ugly, but still tasty, cheesecake. I have made cheesecakes in a water bath in the past when I had access to the arsenal of pans at the coffee shop where I worked, but at home, I don't have a pan large enough to fit my springform pan inside. Most of the time, I'm only baking for me and Justin anyway, so if it cracks, it's no big deal. If you don't care either, don't bother with it. However, if you're trying to impress someone with your mad baking skills, use the water bath. Wrap your springform pan in 3 to 4 layers of heavy duty aluminum foil, being sure that the foil fits tightly around the pan and that it comes more than halfway up the side of the pan all the way around. If you don't do this, you will end up letting water in through the bottom edge of the pan, and you will have a soggy mess of a cheesecake. Once your pan is sufficiently waterproofed, place it inside a roasting pan. Boil some water, and pour it into the roasting pan around the cheesecake. Fill it just enough to go about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Place the whole thing in the oven, and bake as directed, though you may have to adjust your cooking time slightly. (If you use boiling water instead of tap water, you shouldn't have to adjust too much because the water will already be closer to the temperature of the air in your oven and so won't take as long to heat up to proper baking temperature.)

Regardless of whether or not you use the water bath, bake the cheesecake only until the outside few inches are totally set while the center still jiggles slightly. At this point, turn off the oven, and let your cheesecake start to cool inside with the door open for 30 minutes or so. Then continue cooling it on a wire rack so that air can circulate all around the pan. Once it's cooled to room temperature, refrigerate it overnight before enjoying.


1 1/2 c pecans
3 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp cinnamon

24 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 c sugar
4 large eggs
15 oz canned pumpkin
1/2 c sour cream
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp bourbon
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon

1 c packed dark brown sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/4 c bourbon
Pinch of salt

Whipped Cream
1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.  Combine crust ingredients in a food processor until they begin to stick together, and then press into the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes, and cool completely.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add pumpkin, sour cream, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpking pie spice, bourbon, and salt, and beat until just combined. Pour mixture over crust, and bake 60-75 minutes. Cool in oven with door open for 30 minutes. Remove pan, and cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill overnight.

Combine brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, corn syrup, and salt in a sauce pan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil, whisking until sugar is completely dissolved. Lower heat to medium, and allow to boil for 1 minute without stirring. Remove from heat, stir in bourbon, and cool.

Combine all whipped cream ingredients, and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

To serve, dip a knife in hot water to heat up blade and then wipe dry. Cut cheesecake into slices, reheating knife as needed. Drizzle bourbon caramel sauce over each slice, and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Servings: 12

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

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