1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for preparing pan
Graham Cracker Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 full graham cracker sheets)
1/3 cup ground toasted filberts (hazelnuts)
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
Note: Walnuts or pecans may be used in place of the hazelnuts. Finely ground ginger cookies may be substituted for all or part of the graham cracker crumbs.
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup whipping (heavy) cream
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups pumpkin puree
4 large eggs, room temperature
Tip: If you have trouble measuring 1/3 teaspoon, use a heaping (or rounded) ¼ teaspoon measure. Use standard measuring cups and spoons or scales for accurate measuring.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare one 9-inch round cheesecake pan or springform pan with 3-inch sides; use a pastry brush to butter the sides and bottom of pan with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
Graham Cracker Crust:
- In a small mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, ground hazelnuts, sugar, and butter. Stir until thoroughly mixed and mixture is crumbly.
- Pour the graham cracker crumb mixture into the springform pan. Using the back of a large spoon or the flat bottom of a measuring cup or drinking glass, press the crumb mixture firmly and evenly across the bottom of the pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet; bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool.
- When cooled, wrap bottom and sides of pan in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil to prepare for the bain marie water bath. The foil is to prevent any water from seeping into the cheesecake through the pan seams.
- Reduce oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and sugar; mix on medium low speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly and there are no lumps.
- Add sour cream, whipping cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and flour; beat until mixed. Add the pumpkin; continue beating on medium low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
- Add the eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions. Tip: crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the cheese mixture.
Tip: Do not overbeat the cheesecake batter. Blend the ingredients quickly to add as few air bubbles as possible. The ingredients must be well blended, but excessive beating creates too many air pockets which can cause the cheesecake to puff up too much during baking, and then crack during the cooling process.
- Let the filling rest about 5 minutes to allow air bubbles to rise to the surface.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil to use for the bain marie water bath.
- Pour the cheesecake filling into the graham cracker crust.
- Set the foil wrapped springform pan in a larger pan or roasting pan and transfer to the oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan, and close the oven door. Bake 60 to 70 minutes.
Tip: The Cheesecake is done when the edges are set but the center 2 to 3 inches are still a pool of liquid batter. The cake should look as though it has puffed a little and just barely beginning to brown. The center will still be soft and jiggly when the pan is lightly jarred or tapped with a spoon.
- Remove from oven, place springform pan on a wire cooling rack to cool. Immediately run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, gently pressing into the side of the pan to avoid gouging the cake. This allows the cake to contract away from the sides of the pan as it cools, helping to prevent cracks.
- When cheesecake is completely cooled, cover the pan and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours before serving. Try to avoid having the covering touch the top of the cheesecake as this may mar the surface.