Prepare yourself for the most scrumptious cheesecake you have ever tasted! This is the second year in a row that we have made this cheesecake for our Thanksgiving dessert. It always gets rave reviews and our guests always ask for the recipe... so here you go! It is definitely a keeper. Yes, it takes a lot of time - but it's worth it! I added a brandy whipped cream topping to this fabulous Food & Wine recipe and it just makes it that much more sinful and special!
(Adapted from Food & Wine)
Yield: 12 Servings
1 (15 oz) Can Pumpkin Puree (1 3/4 C.)
8 Whole Graham Crackers, broken
1/2 C. Pecans
1 Tbsp. Light Brown Sugar
5 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 C. Cream Cheese (14 oz.) at room temperature
1 1/2 C. Granulated Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp. Ground Allspice
5 Large Eggs, at room temperature
1 C. Heavy Cream, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Exract
Set a rack over a baking sheet and line the rack with 2 layers of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin puree over the paper towels and let drain for 2 hours, until the puree is fairly dry. Preheat the oven to 500F degrees. Butter the bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan, In a processor, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground. Add the pecans and brown sugar and pulse until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse just until incorporated. Press the crumbs onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for about 8 minutes, just until it is fragrant and lightly browned. Let the crust cool completely.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese until it is very smooth. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar with the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. With the machine on, add the spiced sugar to the cream cheese and beat until creamy, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl. Carefully add the drained pumpkin puree and beat until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl between each addition. Beat in the heavy cream, lemon juice and vanilla until the cheesecake mixture is smooth.
Pour the cheesecake mixture over the cooled crust and bake for 12 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 225F degrees and bake the cheesecake for about 3 hours, until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center registers 150F degrees; the center will be very jiggly but not liquidy. Let the cheesecake cook on a rack, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Run a hot knife around the cheesecake and loosen the springform ring. Carefully remove the ring and transfer the cake to a plate. Using a warm knife, cut the cake into wedges and serve with the pecan praline topping and whipped cream.
Pecan Praline Topping
(From Food & Wine)
1 1/2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
3/4 C. Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Heavy Cream
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 C. Pecans
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. In a large saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and cook over moderate heat; stir until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer just until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Let the caramel cool. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer the pecans to a work surface and let them cool. Coarsely chop the nuts; stir them into the cooled caramel and serve. (The topping can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Reheat slightly before serving.)
Brandy Whipped Cream
1 C. Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. Brandy
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream until thick and frothy. While beating, add the sugar and brandy. Beat until soft peaks form.