Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake

I have to admit … as un-American as it may be … I do not like Pumpkin Pie.  Never have …. never will.  I have tried everyone’s Grandmother’s “famous” recipe, had it at fancy restaurants … I just don’t like a traditional pumpkin pie.

So my dislike of pumpkin pie has nothing to do with pumpkin.  I actually really like the flavor of this winter squash. I like it in soups, risottos, slow roasted, and in other baked goods like pumpkin spice muffins and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I think it’s the texture of a traditional pumpkin pie that gets me.  Especially since I have the same sentiments about sweet potato pie – another veggie I’ll eat any other way.

So I went on a quest to find an alternative for my Holiday table.

I remembered a delicious cheesecake version that I had at a restaurant, so I tried to duplicate it at home.  And luckily … it was a home run!

Most cheesecakes use graham crackers for their crusts. Which to be honest I find kinda boring.  I usually add nuts to the mixture or find another cookie to crumble. In this case, I found that sharp flavor of Ginger Snaps to be the perfect contrast to the sweetness of the cheesecake.  You can make homemade Ginger Snaps but my attitude is why bother since the store bought ones work just as fine.

Another time saver is to use canned pumpkin versus fresh.  To be honest, I actually prefer it not just for the ease but also because canned pumpkin has a smoother, less stringy consistency that is perfect for this cake filling.

Enjoy!

Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake

For the crust:
2 cups ginger snaps
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
1 lb. 14 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (15-ounce) pumpkin (or 1 3/4 cups fresh pumpkin puree)
8 oz. mascarpone, at room temperature
1/4 cup caramel sauce

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

To make the crust:

Finely grind the ginger snaps in a food processor. Slowly add the butter and blend until it forms moist clumps. Press the crust into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan.  Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

To make the cheesecake:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and salt until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix well.   Add the ginger, cinnamon, and pumpkin puree.  Decrease to low speed and stir in the mascarpone until well combined.  Evenly spoon the filling into the crust.

Put the cheesecake in the oven.  Put a pan of hot water on another rack below the cake.  (The steam prevents a crust from forming on top of the cake.)  Bake the cheesecake until almost set, about 55 to 65 minutes,   (The center of the cake will not be completely firm.)

When the cake is done, loosen it from the edges of the pan by running a knife around the inside edge.  Let the cake cool for 30 minutes at room temperature.  (Both these steps help prevent the top from cracking.) Refrigerate, in the spring form pan, for at least 4 hours.

Unmold the cheesecake by running a knife around the inside edge of the pan.

Drizzle the top of the cheesecake with the caramel sauce.

Serves 8 to 10.

 

 

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Jennifer Chandler

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