When the fall weather turns cool this is my favorite pumpkin cheesecake, and makes an ideal choice for Halloween and Thanksgiving entertaining. The taste of pumpkin is mild with just a hint of warm spices, and the melted white chocolate adds a smooth sweetness and creaminess that is divine. The crunchy chocolate cookie crust supports the creamy cake, and is so easy to make when you just throw them into a food processor or small grinder. Top the cake with white chocolate curls and shavings to delight the eye as much as the palate.
White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for preparing pan
Chocolate Cookie Crust:
1½ cups cream-filled chocolate sandwich crumbs (About 18 sandwich cookies, Such as Oreo Cookies)
12 ounces white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup whipping (heavy) cream
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 large eggs, room temperature
Tip: Use standard measuring cups and spoons or scales for accurate measuring.
About 6 ounces White chocolate for curls and shavings
- 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.
Chocolate Cookie Crust:
- Crush or grind the whole cookies, including the cream filling, to make crumbs. Tip: place whole cookies in a food processor or small grinder.
- Pour the chocolate 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 top of a double boiler over hot water, melt the white chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly.
Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Turn the heat off and place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the simmering water, the upper pan should not touch the water. See Melting Chocolate – How to Melt Chocolate.
- 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 the melted chocolate, whipping cream, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg; 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 80 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.
- When ready to serve, decorate with white chocolate curls.
- Melt about 6 ounces of white chocolate. Spread the melted chocolate in a thin layer on a cool flat surface such as a marble slab or wooden board. Work quickly so the chocolate can be spread evenly before it begins to set. When the chocolate is set but not hard, hold a wide spatula at a slight angle to the chocolate and push along the top of the chocolate for 1 to 2 inches to form a thin roll of chocolate. Don’t worry if they don’t all curl. The broken shavings look just as nice on top of the cake.
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