It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is almost here. In preparation for the national holiday, I'm giving an easy recipe for pumpkin cheesecake that you can add to your holiday desserts. One of the good things about cheesecake is that you can bake, cool and freeze one this week and then defrost and serve it on Thanksgiving Day.
Instead of the usual graham cracker crust, this cheesecake's crust is a combination of crushed gingersnap cookies and pecans. I pulse gingersnaps in the food processor first, add the pecans, sugar and melted butter, and pulse a few times to combine. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or other flat-bottom kitchen cup to press the crust down into a uniform thickness.
This cheesecake is not overly sweet, and it gets its sweetness from a can of sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar.
The cheesecake needs to cool for an hour before removing the sides of the springform pan. If you want to freeze the cake, cool it completely and wrap it in plastic wrap and then in heavy-duty foil before freezing. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
I like to garnish the cheesecake with pecan halves so that any guests with nut allergies will know that the cheesecake has nuts in it.
EASY PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE
For the crust:
2 cups gingersnaps, crushed
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter, melted
Place the gingersnaps into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Add the pecans and melted butter and pulse until combined.
Press into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan and set aside.
For the filling:
3 8-ounce blocks cream cheese, softened at room temperature for 1 hour 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 1 15-ounce can solid packed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
4 large eggs 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12-16 toasted pecan halves, optional, for garnish
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Beat the combine cream cheese and condensed milk together with an electric mixer in a large bowl until completely smooth. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time and then beat in the pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract. Spread over the prepared crust and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 1 hour and then refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, run a thin paring knife around the outer edge of the pan and unmold the cake. Garnish with the toasted pecan halves, if desired.
Makes 8-12 servings.