Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping 

Every year at Thanksgiving, no matter how many servings of mashed potatoes and gravy I’ve had, I have to leave room for my Mom’s infamous pumpkin cheesecake. So decacadent, so smooth and so perfectly pumpkin, and you only get it once a year. ONCE a year. Eat up while you can. Eat it any time of Thanksgiving Day that you can. Volunteer to help “divide out the leftovers” of this cheesecake, and just say whoops if anyone realizes that you may or may not have given your container a larger portion. I think the fact that my Mom only whips up this cheesecake once a year is what makes it oh-so special (besides the to-die-for taste). And she let me share this special recipe!

Because she has been making this cheesecake for years, my Mom has become the pro at delivering the perfect slice of cheesecake heaven. The original recipe has adapted over the years to become her own special version. The layers between the crust, the pumpkin filling and the sour cream topping are all three layers to get lost in. If you let it set properly, the layers will come out clean and crisp. When you are making the crust, try to keep the crust from going up the sides of the pan so that you can achieve the layered look that you are wanting. Not over-beating the cheesecake filling will also help it to bake out light and fluffy. So resist the urge to whip it good! The final cooking touch of having a water bath underneath the cheesecake as it bakes will help it to come out moist and dreamy (without a crack straight across the middle of your cheesecake top).

This cheesecake is the perfect amount of creaminess, pumpkin, spice and everything nice that you need on Thanksgiving Day. Let this pumpkin cheesecake become one of your special holiday traditions that your family begs you to whip up more than once a year.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping 

Recipe adapted from The Best of Gourmet, 1991 Edition 


Ingredients: 

For the crust: 

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted (4 Tablespoons)

For the filling: 

  • 1 – 15 oz can puréed pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 – 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the topping: 

  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 16 pecan halves for garnish

Directions: 

For the crust: 

  1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, sugar and butter together in a bowl until the mixture is completely coated in the butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of a buttered or sprayed 9-inch springform pan, not spreading the mixture up the sides of the pan. You will want to ensure the graham cracker layer is level all around.
  2. Place in the freezer while you make the filling for the cheesecake. Remove the pan once the filling is ready to be poured in.

For the filling: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, eggs, heavy cream, cornstarch and vanilla until light and fluffy. Be sure to not overmix or heavily beat the mixture.
  3. On low speed, add in the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust and spread until it is an even layer. Bake the cheesecake for 50-55 minutes with an oven-safe pan half-way filled with water on the rack below the cheesecake to add humidity to the oven. Bake until the center is set and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

For the topping: 

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream and sugar.
  2. Spread the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake and bake the cheesecake for 5 minutes more.
  3. Remove the cheesecake and garnish the top with the pecans while the sour cream mixture is still warm.
  4. Let the cheesecake cool in the pan for 2-3 hours, or until it reaches room temperature. Chill uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or up to 2 days in advance. Once the cheesecake is completely chilled in the refrigerator, it can be covered at this point.
  5. To serve, remove the springform pan.

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