Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Vanilla-Bourbon Caramel Sauce

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Jennifer Pallian
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Pumpkin cheesecake. If you haven't tried it, here is my suggestion: drop what you are doing; run, do not walk, to your kitchen and start preheating your oven; tie your frilly apron strings snugly around your waist, and ignore all phone calls for the next hour. Trust me, you want to undertake this killer dessert with the urgency it deserves.

Although reminiscent of the traditional pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake is richer, creamier, and even more sinfully delicious. With a silky vanilla-bourbon caramel sauce and nutty toasted pecans it could arguably be considered a religious experience.

I wish I had more photos of the process to share with you, but it was the star dessert at our (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner, and I was running around all day like our 20 pound turkey with its head cut off. If I had attempted to bust out the camera, it would have probably ended up baked into the stuffing or piled into the sink with the dirty dishes. I'm a multi-tasker, but people, there are risks you just shouldn't take in a 5' by 5' kitchen.

Warm spices, buttery graham crackers, a subtle tang from the sour cream, and a sweetness that perfectly complements the rich pumpkin. I think I hear a choir of angels.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

Adapted from Canadian Living Magazine

  • 1 cooled graham cracker crust, recipe below

  • 2 packages (each 8 oz/250 g) cream cheese, softened

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1-1/2 cups pumpkin purée

  • 1 tsp each cinnamon and vanilla

  • 1/2 tsp each ground ginger and nutmeg

  • Pinch ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set a kettle of water to boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese together with sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Pour over crust, smoothing top with a spatula.

2. Place cheesecake in a roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come up one inch the side of the pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 50 minutes, or until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set. Turn oven off, and allow cheesecake to cool in the water bath inside the oven for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Can be made 24 hours in advance.

Graham Cracker Crust

From Nabisco

  • 8 whole graham crackers, finely crushed (about 1-1/4 cups crumbs)

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix all ingredients until well blended.

2. Press firmly onto bottom and up side of 9-inch springform pan.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Vanilla-Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Epicurious

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

  • 1/3 cup butter

  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup bourbon

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted, cooled

1. Bring sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, and salt to boil in a medium saucepan, whisking until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and boil for 1 minute without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon, vanilla and pecans. Cool, stirring occasionally.