This cheesecake won the top prize ($500.00) in the 2011 Food Lion Bake-off contest. Now it is a holiday tradition that I bring this one to family gatherings. I hope your family enjoys it as much as our family does.
1*Let the cream cheese and 6 eggs come to room temperature.
*Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place rack on middle position.
Combine the gingersnap cookies and melted butter until thoroughly blended. (I used a food processor to grind the cookies as they need to be ground to the consistency of sand.)
Press cookie mixture into the bottom of a 10" springform pan.
Bake the crust 10-15 minutes, just until it turns a nice dark golden brown
Remove and cool on a rack (allow to come down to room temperature)
Blend cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until it gets fluffy
Add the sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, mixing just until combined
Add the sour cream and pumpkin puree and again, mix just until combined
Lightly beat the room temperature eggs and add to cheese-pumpkin mixture
Add the spices and vanilla
Blend until just combined, being careful not to "overbeat" the mixture, which will cause your cake to crack
Pour batter into prepared springform pan
Wrap the pan in double-layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and place wrapped pan into a roasting pan (just large enough to hold the pan)
Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan ******This is called a "water bath", you can google it to see more about the technique**********
Bake the cheesecake in the 325 degree water bath for 1 hour, 30 minutes (just until sides pull away from the pan and the center is still just a bit jiggly) Be careful not to overcook, if you've followed these directions exactly, you shouldn't need to cook this for more than 1 hour 45 minutes.
When cooking time is over, leave the cake and roasting pan in the oven with the oven door slightly open and the oven turned off, allowing it to cool in the oven for up to an hour.
When the cheesecake (and roasting pan water) have come down to room temperature, remove the cheesecake, remove the foil, cover cake with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours (overnight is best)
Serve plain, or for those who need topping, put just a dollop of Cool Whip on top.
5NOTE: This will make enough batter for a 10" Springform pan. If you use the standard 9" Springform pans widely sold, you will have enough batter to also fill a standard sized pie pan, either homemade or storebought. To cook in the pre-made pie crusts, reduce the cooking time to 50-55 minutes and of course, no water bath needed. If you want to make the batter and use ONLY pre-made crusts, it will make three pies.