I posted my recipe for Gingersnappy crust a couple of days ago...so I thought I better post my pumpkin cheesecake recipe since it goes so well with it. And, YES...there is Cayenne pepper in the crust. It adds just a kiss of heat. And, YES it's a SALTED caramel sauce. Not TOO salty...just enough to give that added layer of depth and richness. Think of it as Yin Yang...a bit salty to cut the sweet. Sooooooooo yummy, I promise!
Notes from the Test Kitchen:
This cheesecake is sure to be the highlight of your holiday table! The gingersnap crust is so tasty, and the cheesecake has a light pumpkin flavor... perfect for most any palate.
box gingersnaps (about 16 oz.)
stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
cup pecans, chopped fine
1/4 - 1/2
cayenne pepper (trust me)
(8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature (may use low-fat, but do not use fat free)
(15oz. can) solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
cup heavy cream
1 - 1 1/2
1/2 - 1
1/2 - 1
freshly grated nutmeg
1 - 3
SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE
cup dark brown sugar, packed
stick (1/2 cup) butter
cup heavy cream (can use milk or half and half)
pure vanilla extract
1- 1 1/2
salt (trust me)
crumbled gingersnaps for garnish
toasted pecan halves for garnish
whipped cream (totally optional...i don't think it needs it)
General NOTE: For the spices I usually just dump 'em in without measuring... so these measurements are guesstimations. Try adding 1/2 the spice amount then adjust up to taste. I like a LOT LOT LOT of spices in my pumpkin desserts. You may not like it as spiced, so don't be afraid to customize it to YOUR taste!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
For Crust: Crush the gingersnaps and reserve some for garnish (I do it in a food processor or you can place them in a ziplock bag and use a rolling pin). Combine all crust ingredients in bowl. Press into bottom and up sides of a greased 10" or 11" springform pan. OR you can line the bottom with parchment. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. or until pecans are just slightly toasty. Cool a bit before filling.
For filling: In a bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add spices (to taste), beat until light in texture. Add pumpkin puree and mix until just blended. Stir in eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each addition. Stir in cream.
Pour batter into springform pan over cooled crust. Bake in center of oven until cheesecake is firm to touch and not jiggly in middle, about 50 min. - 1 hour. Let cheesecake cool on a wire rack for about 45 minutes. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is better). Don't freak out with how it looks straight out of the oven, the cake may be cracked, but it will FALL slightly in the middle as it chills giving it that classic "cheesecake" shape with a ridge around the edge.
For Caramel Sauce: Put sugars and water in small heavy saucepan, stir until well-mixed. Bring to boil over medium heat. Boil approx. 4 minutes. It will be dark because of the brown sugar. Do NOT Stir it while cooking--this can lead to crystalization. Do NOT overcook it or you'll burn the sugar and have to start over. Remove from heat, add cream, salt and butter and stir until well blended. Let cool for about 5 min. then add vanilla extract. Cool completely before pouring on cheesecake slices.
This stores nicely in the refrigerator for at least a week or so.
Cut chilled cheesecake into individual pieces and plate. Top each piece with whipped cream (if desired). Drizzle with cooled caramel sauce and garnish with crumbled gingersnaps and roasted pecan halves.
To roast pecan halves: lay pecan halves on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes until browned.
Keeps in fridge for a few days...in freezer for a month or so.
If you're thinking about serving this at a dinner party, you should consider trying my mini version of this recipe that makes individual-sized cheesecakes! It's PERFECT for large get-togethers as it will make about 36 servings! Just go to the URL below for the recipe!