Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping

I found this recipe on the cover of Gourmet magazine in 1990 and have been making it ever since.  It's the perfect finish to an Autumn menu or Thanksgiving meal and always gets rave reviews.

I've even carried it on the plane, rather than trying to work my way into the kitchen at my in-law's house.  A few years ago, we were interviewed by a reporter at New York's La Guardia airport, when they spied my big cake taker along with our luggage.  The story was picked up by the Associated Press, which makes me smile every time I make it.  http://www.cnycentral.com/News/news_story.aspx?id=68368 – if you'd like to read the article.

Ingredients for the crust…
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

In a bowl combine the cracker crumbs, the pecans, and the sugars, stir in the butter, and press the mixture into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the side of a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Chill the crust for 1 hour.  I've cheated and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes, if you are pinched for time.

The crust is AMAZING.  These wonderful dry ingredients create a crust that is heavenly for your cheesecake.

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I think the finely chopped pecans are the key.  I have this tool called a Mix n Chop that I bought from Pampered Chef that is perfect for getting them chopped finely.  I just put them in a glass measuring cup and attack.
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Ingredients for the filling…

1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, cut into bits and softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Jack Daniels, if desired

In a bowl whisk together the pumpkin, the egg, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the ginger, the salt, and the brown sugar.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and the granulated sugar, beat in the cream, the cornstarch, the vanilla, the Jack Daniels, and the pumpkin mixture, and beat the filling until it is smooth.

I have a big Kitchenaid mixer, and I scrape the sides of the bowl down a couple of times, but there always seems to be a bit at the bottom that doesn't quite get mixed in.  I use that to my advantage and swirl in the last bits into the pan to make it pretty.

Pour the filling into the crust, bake the cheesecake in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the center is just set, and let it cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes.
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It will have these big craters in the cheesecake.  Let it sit on a cake rack for 5 minutes and you will see even more form.  It's all good – this will be covered by the next step.  It's a sure sign that your cheesecake is going to be delicious, trust me!
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Ingredients for the topping…

2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Jack Daniels, or to taste
16 pecan halves for garnish

Make the topping:

In a bowl whisk together the sour cream, the sugar, and the Jack Daniels.

Spread the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake and bake the cheesecake for 5 minutes more. Let the cheesecake cool in the pan on a rack and chill it, covered, overnight. Remove the side of the pan and circle the top of the cheesecake with the pecan halves. 

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Enjoy!
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modified from original recipe from Gourmet Magazine | November 1990

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