There are a lot of pumpkin cheesecakes out there, and I love them all. The first time I had pumpkin cheesecake, it was more of a New York style, with the thick, dense filling. It was delicious, but also very heavy. When working up my own recipe for pumpkin cheesecake, I wanted to find a way to lighten it up a bit. I mean, you just finished eating a plate full (or perhaps several plates full) of Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re like me, by that time, you just aren’t in the mood to eat something heavy.
That’s why I ended up going with Ricotta as the main base for the filling. It’s lighter, and can cook up to a good texture without requiring flour. This recipe is enough to make 1, 8inch round cheesecake. You’ll need a springform pan. Also, the cheesecake needs to sit in the fridge overnight, so you’ll want to make this the day before.
Here’s what you need:
• 3 cinnamon graham crackers (full crackers)
• handful of ginger snaps
• 2 tbsp white sugar
• 4 tbsp melted butter
• 20 ounces whole milk ricotta, drained
• 8 oz cream cheese
• 15oz can of pre made pumpkin pie filling (DO NOT get pure pumpkin)
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
• 4 large eggs
• 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 pinch nutmeg
• pinch of salt
First thing, make the crust. Put the crackers and ginger snaps into a food processor and turn them to tiny crumbs. You’ll need 1 cup of crumbs, so add more ginger snaps until you have a full cup.
Once you have your crumbs, mix them with the sugar and melted butter, then press into the bottom of your springform pan.
Cover the springform pan with plastic wrap and set in the fridge while you make the filling.
The filling is pretty simple. First, bring your cream cheese to room temperature. You can either leave it out at room temperature for an hour before making the cheesecake, or do what I did and use the defroster on your microwave. 2-3 minutes should do it. If you have a Kitchenaid mixer or something similar, you’ll want to use it. If not, you’ll be ok. You’ll just have to be more involved during the mixing process, but you’re probably used to that. :)
Mix the cream cheese in your mixer on the second setting (pretty low, but not the lowest) for 10 minutes. Yeah, 10 minutes. You’re gonna beat the crap out of this filling. Stop about 5 minutes in and scrape the bottom of the bowl, just to make sure there aren’t any solid chunks flyin’ below the radar down there.
– Add the ricotta and sugar, and beat that for another 10 minutes, scraping the bowl a couple times through the process.
– Add the pumpkin pie filling, and beat for another 5 minutes, scraping the bowl halfway through.
– Add the cornstarch and beat that in until it’s completely mixed.
– Add your eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds in between each.
This is about when you’ll want to start preheating your oven to 315. Yes I understand that’s not a common temperature for baking, but who says temperatures have to go in increments of 25 degrees? Not I.
– Once the eggs are incorporated completely, scrape the bowl, add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and beat for another 5 minutes, scraping the bowl one more time halfway through.
Remove the springform pan from the fridge and set it in a deep roasting pan, like so:
Pour your filling into the springform pan, then carefully pour water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the springform pan (should I write the word “pan” a couple more times?).
Bake in a 315 degree oven for 75-90 minutes. The center will not be as risen as the outer ring area, but you’ll know it’s done when you can gently shake the pan and the cake moves a bit, but doesn’t slosh. But don’t even attempt shaking it until at least 75 minutes.
Once done, remove from the oven, allow it to cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour, then cover and put in the fridge. Before serving, carefully run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan, then remove the springform part.
Cut and eat. You could top this cake with a little of the cranberry sauce, or eat as is. ‘Nother pic:
The texture is hard to explain. It’s like a mix between cake and pudding, more on the pudding side. It’s moist, rich, but light enough to not make your teeth hurt every time you take a bite. The flavor is recognizable as pumpkin pie, but in a new way. I really think you’ll like it.
And there you have it. 9 recipes, broken down in detail, that will help you rock your Thanksgiving dinner. The best part is, they all taste like they were much more difficult to make than they actually are. Those are the best, right? Impress the masses, with minimal effort. I hope some of these have been useful, or at least given you some good ideas to implement into your own versions. Good luck and be sure to come back and let me know how it turned out!
Links to all the posts in this series:
• Savory Cornbread Stuffing
• Scratch-Made Asparagus Casserole (my version of green bean casserole)
• Country-Style Herbed Mashed Potatoes
• Dijon Country Gravy Made with Turkey Drippings
• Homemade Cranberry Sauce Worth Serving
• Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Bacon Vinaigrette
• How to Roast the Perfect Turkey
• Buttery and Crusty Herb-Topped Dinner Rolls
• Light and Airy Pumpkin-Ricotta Cheesecake
• How to Make an Entire Thanksgiving Meal In One Oven