baking

The Great Pumpkin (Season)

TDay. Turkeytime. It’s the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. The magical season of the pumpkin, of course. Luckily, I think there are some holidays surrounding this time of year, too – perfect for celebrating pumpkins! You can have your sweet potatoes and apples and peppermint – nothing to me signifies that earthy, warm quality of autumn as the sweet, rustic pumpkin. I have a few pumpkin treats lined up, but for today its a classic with a great twist – perfect for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Wednesdays.

For Thanksgiving this year I was lucky and thrilled to spend the day with friends, telling ridiculous stories and eating way too much on a Thursday night. Everyone brought their own flavor to the table, from a fabulous sweet-savory cornbread stuffing, to Hawaiian cranberry relish punched up with pineapple. I wanted to bring a dessert that was comforting but not expected, decadent but not heavy,  cool but not bland. For the first time in years, I made a cheesecake.

This pumpkin cheesecake starts with a delicious twist, a dark and buttery gingersnap crust. I found that the crystallized ginger didn’t add much and you can certainly do without it, but don’t skimp with cheap-o gingersnaps – get crisp cookies rich in gingery spiciness and it will play beautifully off the pumpkin. The resulting dessert is smooth and spiced as you would expect from a good pumpkin pie, but creamy and tangy as only cheesecake can be. You can do without the marshmallow/sour cream topping if you like, unless like me you have a giant crack in your cheesecake the size of the Grand Canyon – in which case it makes a perfect blanket to cover up mistakes! I liked the topping which was cool and tangy, but certainly didn’t taste too marshmallowy. And don’t panic (as I did) when the melted marshmallow separates, the sour cream will stabilize it right up.

I did make some alterations to the recipe as suggested by others and would definitely recommend them:

– use a larger (10 inch) springform pan

– decrease the cream cheese to three 8oz packages

– decrease the sugar to 1 and 1/2 cups

– increase the pumpkin by 8oz

– increase the spice by 50% (or add one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice blend)

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