Monday, November 22, 2010

How To Make Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup finely ground ginger cookies, store bought or homemade
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4-5 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted


2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
1 pound low-fat plain cream cheese, room temperature
3 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup pecan halves for decorating top of cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350?F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Grease an 8 inch spring form pan with either non-stick cooking spray or butter.

2. For Crust: In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, ginger cookie crumbs, finely chopped pecan pieces, granulated sugar, and melted butter or margarine. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared spring form pan. Cover the crust with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator while you make the cheesecake filling.

3. For Cheesecake: Place the cream cheese into the blender and mix until smooth (about 2 minutes). Gradually add the brown sugar and spices, and beat until smooth and creamy (1 to 2 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well (about 30 seconds) for each addition. Use a spatula to scrape any ingredient that didn't get combined off the sides of the blender. Add vanilla and pumpkin puree and mix well.

4. Pour the pumpkin filling over the chilled ginger crust and place spring form pan on top of a baking sheet to catch any drips. Decorate the top of the cheesecake with pecan halves. Place a cake pan filled half full with hot water on the bottom shelf of the oven to add humidity to the air inside the oven and keep the top of the cheesecake from cracking. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes at 350?F, then reduce the oven temperature to 325?F and bake the cheesecake for another 10-20 minutes until the edges are puffed but the center is still slightly jiggly when the pan is shaken.

5. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Loosen the cake from the spring form pan by gently running a knife around the inside of the pan. Set the cake back on the wire rack (free of the sides of the spring form pan), and cover loosely with aluminum foil. The foil will allow the cheesecake to cool slowly. Once the cake is completely cooled, cover and place in the refrigerator to cool for at least 8 hours, or overnight, prior to serving.

Serves 10-12 people.

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