Here’s the one thing that sucks about living so far from my family: Holidays.
We moved roughly 6 years ago to the Pacific Northwest, away from everything we knew, family, friends, and memories. We really haven’t regretted the decision, except of course in times of trouble or holidays. We haven’t always been able to make it home for holidays or birthdays, mostly we see them at Christmas, so it was nice that our friends were kind enough to invite us to their early Pre-Thanksgiving Day celebration.
And of course I was asked to make dessert. Ha! Like I should expect anything different for a large gathering. I think the end of the world really would be coming if someone asked me to make a side dish instead of dessert. Like rice. If someone ever asks me to bring a side dish to a party I’m going to end up bringing a box of minute rice, just to be snarky. Beware, my dear friends!
So after giving my friend a choice of what I could make as dessert, it was decided upon pumpkin cheesecake. I was actually really excited to make it since I honestly can’t justify making it just for my husband and I. It just makes too darn much! The first time I made it I was pawning it off on so many people because I just couldn’t stand to look at it anymore, let alone eat it.
The cheesecake turned out awesome. It was torture for my husband though. After smelling the deliciousness that is the crust cooking, then being told the cheesecake hadn’t even made it into the oven yet, I was slightly expecting a temper tantrum. It just smelled that good. My friend actually worried that the cheesecake wouldn’t make it to the party, but my husband has been trained very well. He knows. No touchy!
This cheesecake was evidence as to why I’m always asked to make dessert. I was shocked that it was almost gone by the end of the night. Even I sat at the kitchen counter slowly trying to eat my too large piece of cheesecake, the person I was talking with was also staring longingly at the remainder of her cheesecake, but feeling too dang full to eat more.
I really need to figure out a way to make this into smaller portions and freeze it. It is just that good!
The remaining piece was brought home with us and the husband and I shared it this morning for breakfast. Now THAT is the breakfast of champions.
I am so thankful for the family we seemed to have created here. They are great people and really help fill the hole that missing our family creates. Thanks for inviting us guys!
Makes one heck of a large cheesecake, roughly 16 pieces
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (approximately 12 graham crackers)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg yolk (save the white)
- 1 29-ounce can pumpkin puree, strained of liquid to make roughly 2 cups
- 5 whole large eggs, and 1 egg white (from the crust)
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 cups (1 pound) brown sugar
- Heavy duty foil
- 1 10″ diameter, 3″ tall springform pan (it can fit in a 9″ pan, but its a little too full for me, so one size up works better in my opinion)
- Large roasting pan
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Crush graham crackers into crumbs. Add to food processor or mixer along with flour and sugar, beat to combine. Separate the egg and reserve the white. Add egg yolk and butter and beat until everything is completely incorporated. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Press along the bottom and sides as best as possible. Carefully place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool as much as possible.
- Lower oven temperature to 325F
- To strain the liquid from the pumpkin puree, take pumpkin and place in several pieces of paper towel and then wrap in a clean tea towel or kitchen towel. Gather the towel in your hands and squeeze gently, liquid will start draining out slowly. You might need to do this in batches, changing the paper towel between each batch. Squeeze enough liquid out to make roughly 2 cups of puree.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly before mixing in the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and spices. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
- In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and brown sugar until completely incorporated and fluffy, making sure there are no lumps in the cream cheese. Add the pumpkin mixture in batches to the cream cheese until fully mixed.
- Start a kettle of water to boil for the water bath.
- Place the springform pain in the middle of two large sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil, Make sure to use the long foil and not the standard size, any seams will likely leak water from the water bath into the cheesecake. Gently fold the foil up around the pan, trimming the excess foil from on top of the pan and watching for any stray foil pieces that might fall into the crust.
- Place the foil wrapped pan in a large roast pan, making sure there is extra room on all sides between the pans (I used a large disposable turkey pan leftover from the holidays). Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust and smooth out the stop.
- Pull out the oven rack and place the pan on the rack. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, so that it comes roughly halfway up the side of the springform pan. Gently push the oven rack back into the oven.
- Cook the cheesecake for 1 ½ hours at 325F. After cooking, turn the oven off and prop open the door and let the cheesecake slowly cool in the oven for another hour. Gently remove the cheesecake from its water bath and let come to room temperature before chilling for several hours (it tastes best if left overnight).
- When ready to serve, gently remove the cake from the springform pan. Run a knife along the side of the pan to dislodge the crust then slowly unhinge the pan, it should come cleanly away from the crust.
- Serve with whipped cream (and nuts, and caramel sauce, and whiskey…) if so desired.