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Best of Both Worlds: Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

November 21, 2010

The holiday season is a time for indulgence. In the words of Nigella Lawson: “These are feasting days, not fasting days.” Granted, this is a phrase I say to Wilson year-round, but it’s a pretty good mantra for this time of year. I also believe that it is important to eat strategically during the holidays. You simply can’t eat everything that will be thrown at you. There is nothing worse than finding that you have filled up on some mediocre appetizer and no longer have room in your belly for what your taste buds really desire. In some sense, you have to “save yourself” for what is really delicious.

This recipe is all about strategy. We love pumpkin pie, we love cheesecake. This is a perfect way of having both. And I must say, it is really the best of both worlds. This cheesecake begins with a delicious graham cracker crust that becomes lightly caramelized in the oven. The filling is almost like a mousse and is far lighter in texture than what you would find in a traditional cheesecake. The flavors of the pumpkin and cream cheese merge beautifully. The cream cheese is tart and rich, while the pumpkin is mellow and has an earthy sweetness. We like to amp up the spices beyond what the recipe calls for. Spices always add a level of sophistication and complexity that I think goes beyond the one-dimensional sweetness that you find in most desserts. This is really one of the strengths of this dessert; the multiplicity of flavors result in great complexity, while there is also harmony among all of the components. Also, it has bourbon in it! Like I said, best of both worlds.

Wilson and I love Thanksgiving. It is always exciting to maintain some level of tradition while also adding new twists to certain dishes. This cheesecake is really a winner and will show everyone that you aren’t just going through the motions.  Everyone will love it – pumpkin pie and cheesecake lovers alike!  This holiday season, think strategy, think Pumpkin Cheesecake. It’s definitely a dish worth saving yourself for! Yum!

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

Adapted from Gourmet

Yield: Makes 12 to 14 servings 

For crust

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from five 4 3/4- by 2 1/4-inch crackers)
1/2 cup pecans (1 3/4 ounces), finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

For topping
2 cups sour cream (20 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)

Garnish: pecan halves

Make crust:

Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter pan.

Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.
Make filling and bake cheesecake:

Put oven rack in middle position and Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)
Make topping:

Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 minutes.

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2010 4:51 pm

    Oh boy, I really love the sound of this!!!!

  2. November 23, 2010 11:22 am

    How deliciously decadent daaahling! This would be a great desert for any family celebration.
    *kisses* HH

  3. November 23, 2010 5:31 pm

    Oh my, I would help myself to a big ole hunk of this cake if I could reach into the screen. Bourbon plus pumpkin? A veritable sweet dream.

  4. November 27, 2010 11:16 pm

    You got me with the subject line: bourbon pumpkin cheesecake (sounds like the best of 3 worlds to me). This looks like it tastes amazing.

  5. November 29, 2010 10:46 am

    This sounds heavenly. I hate most alcohol drunk straight but love the extra somethin somethin they give to food. What a wonderful holiday indulgence.

  6. November 29, 2010 12:08 pm

    Could this look or sound any better? I think not! Like you, we love pumpkin pie and cheesecake, so I am ecstatic about the melding of two of my favorite desserts. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you have a wonderful Monday!

  7. November 30, 2010 4:28 am

    This looks positively sumptuous. I bet you had a good time gobbling this up. Very indulgent 😀
    *kisses* HH

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