Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

Well you must have known it was only a matter of time before I made a pumpkin cheesecake.  Cheesecake is my favorite variety of dessert (if you are forcing me to choose, that is) and I love all things pumpkin, so this is a natural choice.   Of course I never let myself bake a cheesecake unless I have a crowd to serve it to because the will power I possess loads of around other baked goods flies out the window when cheesecake is involved.  I posted a version a couple of years ago but I decided to try a new one this time around.

I liked the previous version alright but the one thing it was missing was height.  One of my personal requirements for great cheesecake is that it should be at least 2-3 inches tall.  This has a smooth and surprisingly light texture, and the spiced graham cracker crust is an ideal compliment.  The one thing I did love about the old recipe was the use of candied pecans for garnish.  Since I was hosting a dinner party, I just didn’t get around to making the pecans this time but have included them in the version below because I think they add  a really nice touch.  A drizzle of caramel sauce certainly wouldn’t hurt either.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
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For the crust:
5 oz. graham crackers, broken into large pieces
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1 1/3 cups (10 1/3 oz.) sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream

For the candied pecans:
½ cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped (or left intact)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. sugar

Preheat the oven to 325˚ F and place an oven rack in the lower-middle position.  Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan tightly with two pieces of foil.  Spray the inside of the pan lightly with cooking spray.  To make the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and spices in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to process until evenly and finely ground.  Add the melted butter to the bowl and pulse again until the crumbs are evenly moistened.  Transfer the crumbs to the prepared springform pan and press firmly into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.  (I like to use the bottom of a ramekin or measuring cup to do this.)  Bake until fragrant and browned at the edges, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 30 minutes.  Set the pan inside a larger roasting pan.

Bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil; maintain at a simmer.  To make the filling, combine the sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl; whisk to blend and set aside.  Line a work surface with a triple layer of towels.  Spread the pumpkin on the towels and cover with a second triple layer of towels.  Press firmly until the towels are saturated with excess liquid.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and softened, about 1 minute.  Add about a third of the sugar-spice mixture to the bowl and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed and repeat, adding the remaining sugar mixture in two additions.  Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla and lemon juice; beat at medium speed until blended, about 45 seconds.  Add 3 of the eggs and mix on medium-low until incorporated; repeat with the remaining two eggs.  Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds.  Use a rubber spatula to give the mixture a final stir by hand.

Pour the filling into the springform pan, over the crust.  Smooth the top.  Pour enough simmering water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.  Bake until the cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken and the center reads 150˚ F on an instant-read thermometer, about 90 minutes.  Transfer the roasting pan to a wire rack and cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes.  Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and run a paring knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake.  Cool until barely warm, about 3 hours.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

To make the topping, set aside 10 pecan halves and coarsely chop the rest. In a small fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add all of the pecans, sprinkle with the granulated sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and the nuts are toasted and caramel coated. Transfer the nut mixture to a plate and let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

To serve, remove the sides of the springform pan.  Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the bottom of the pan to loosen.  Transfer to a serving platter.  Garnish with candied pecans as desired.  Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Source: Baking Illustrated and Williams Sonoma

77 Responses

  1. i love pumpkin cheesecake! the last time i made it the cheesecake wasn’t cooked enough…. might have to try again soon now:-)

  2. Yummy! And I love all the spices in the crust!

  3. Checking your blog every day always makes me so happy! I LOVE this recipe. I have yet another of your recipes bookmarked 🙂

  4. Hey I just ran across your blog! It’s adorable! That cheesecake recipe looks fantastic 🙂

  5. Do you have a trick about wrapping the foil tightly? I have made a lot of cheesecakes, but only one with a water bath. The water leaked into the foil making the crust soggy and inedible.

    • No, I have no special trick. I think the key is a great springform. I have a good one and I have put it in the bath sans foil with no problems.

      • Would you mind sharing what kind of pan you have? I just hate buying a product, hoping for the best, and then it disappoints 😦

      • It’s from Sur La Table. Not sure of the brand – maybe Kaiser?

  6. Hi Annie,
    How did you keep the cheesecake from cracking on top? That is always the most difficult part for me.

    • Jackie, I think that has more to do with the recipe than anything. But, I’ve never had a cheesecake crack on me. I just follow the recipe and they always turn out intact.

  7. Mmmm . . .I love fall and all the PUMPKIN it brings! Right up my alley!

  8. Gorgeous! I am not a huge cheesecake fan (gasp!) but I love anything pumpkin so I am sure this would be delicious!

  9. Bookmarked! This looks amazing! Thanks Annie!

  10. This looks awesome! I agree a cheesecake has to be really tall. If it’s not tall then it’s not good.

  11. Ok, we can’t hold back any longer. We need to join the pumpkin party asap. And this cheesecake!? Goodness! It looks perfect! And we would definitely want some caramel sauce…

  12. You never cease to amaze me. This looks awesome!

  13. Wow! I think I will definitely be making this for Thanksgiving dessert. PS I love all your blog! I get so excited when there is a new one and it is amazing how often you post. Thanks for all the good stuff!

  14. Ahhh!!! YUM!!! I bookmarked your older version and glad I waited!! 🙂

  15. Congratulations…you have just combined two of my favorits: pumpkin and cheesecake. I’m drooling over here! This looks fantastic!

  16. Oooooh YUM! This looks divine. The only thing better than cheesecake is pumpkin in cheesecake!

  17. Looks awesome! I made one years ago and used ginger snaps for the crust.

  18. Annie I have to tell you…I like cheesecake. I don’t looooove it, but I like it pretty darn well. I saw this picture and I am seriously ready to call my friend and ask to borrow his springform pan to make this. I love pumpkin, and this sounds amazing! Can’t wait to try it!

  19. I love pumpkin cheesecake – there is something about fall that just screams “Make Pumpkin Cheesecake!” This looks so delicious!

  20. you stole my heart.. i looove pumpkin cheesecake! now i am going to have trouble deciding between this and your caramel apple cheesecake pie for Thanksgiving dinner.

  21. I share your love of all things pumpkin and am really excited to try this recipe! This cheesecake looks just phenomenal.

  22. oh man. i’m just about to go out for dinner, but i’d rather just have a slice of this!

  23. It looks fabulous! I love it when a cheesecake comes out nice and tall with an even top.

  24. That looks so beautiful! My husband loves cheesecakes, and is completely with you on the height thing. All of my cheesecakes crack, so I always have to put lots of topping on them. I have tried water baths, no water bath, letting them cool in the oven with the door cracked, letting them cool outside the oven…I will give this one a shot. Hopefully it will look as good as I know it will taste. If not, cinnamon whipped cream will be waiting!

  25. Pumpkin cheesecake is one of my all time favorite desserts! Such a lovely photo!

  26. This looks incredible! I love cheesecake and pumpkin. The candied pecans sound awesome!

  27. Look really yummy and nice! Your blog is beauty! gloria

  28. What could be better than this dessert! Lovely!

  29. i cant say which i am liking more. the smooth surface cake, without cracks or the picture perfect shot. thanks for sharing!

  30. I am so happy to get this recipe! I love love love all things pumpkin and I love cheesecake. I am excited to try this, this will be my first cheesecake so hopefully I can channel some of your baking skills and succeed LOL!

  31. I actually do not like cheesecake…unless it’s pumpkin cheesecake that is! This looks delicious!

  32. I think ill make this for thanksgiving. I just love the fall season. yum!

  33. OMG!!!!! ANNIE MY COWORKERS AND I ARE IN LOVE WITH YOU!!! We work at the american girl place in los angeles and have been looking at your blog (on page 42) for the last hour! We met brad pitt last weekend here at agp and as far as I am concered we would make rather meet you!!!! I graduated from IU and am from Indianapolis (went to park tudor for 13 years) And I have already sent your blog to everyone I know! What I wouldn’t do for the strawberry ice cream cupcake!
    we all just want to know what you are doing in med school???!!!! Start a bakery in indy or at least sell your bake goods at the farmers market!!!
    Love your fans in Los Angeles!

    • Ann,
      Thank you so much, I am very flattered! I love hearing from my readers and knowing my blog is enjoyed by others. I hope you continue to find recipes and inspiration you love here. Thanks for reading!

  34. Cheesecake has always intimidated me (it’s probably the water bath) but this looks too delicious to pass up!

  35. love love love ur recipes! I was looking though for the herb and honey butter recipes, also the caramelized onion dip and the blackberry cran sauce, i was doing some thanksgiving planning and came across ur list of items from a previous thanksgiving and fell in love with a lot of them, can u tell me where to find them?

    thank you!

    • The herb butter and cranberry sauce recipes have been posted – use the search function. I don’t use a recipe for honey butter. The caramelized onion dip is Ina Garten’s and can be found on Food Network’s website.

  36. Question: Can you explain the triple layer towels and the puree? I don’t want to mess it up. 😀 Thanks.

    • I’m not sure how to explain it more clearly than it is described in the post. What is confusing to you?

    • Maybe it was the time of day that I read it lol. How I understand it is triple layer towels (not paper), spread pumpkin, top with triple layer towels, press out excess liquid, scrape off into mixing bowl at the appropriate time. Sorry to sound so grade school…my brain just wasn’t clicking on this. 😀 BTW, thanks for responding.

  37. GORGEOUS! That is the most beautiful looking cheesecake I have ever seen!

  38. Your pumpkin obsession reminds me of me! I just made Pumpkin Blondies with Candied Ginger and they were really good! You should check them out on my blog – I just posted about them tonight 🙂 I am really excited to try this pumpkin cheesecake! Can you OD on pumpkin? I sure hope not! 🙂

  39. This dessert definitely combines two of my most favorite flavors! Cheesecake and pumpkin! Can’t wait to try this one out!

  40. just finished reading through your whole blog and I am so inspired. We recently implemented (well are trying to at least) a weekly menu so we would stop eating out so much. I love to cook (but get totally lazy) and I have already tried the Guiness Cake (everyone loved it) and adapted the Caramel Apple Cheesecake/spiced pumpkin cheesecake to a new recipe. PUMPKIN apple cheesecake. Basically just make the crust/apple mixture and then put the spiced pumpkin cheesecake on top. (and I made the whole thing in a pyrex dish! can’t get easier than that) I’m telling you it is AMAZING. the first time I made it, we ate the WHOLE pie before it was cooled. The 2nd time we restrained ourselves and let it cool.. it was sooo much better. You should make that.. like right now 🙂

    Thanks for your wonderful recipes. Looking forward to trying a lot more!

    ❤ from Washington

  41. Annie, I love your blog.. I made the pumpkin cheesecake… TO DIE FOR.. Quite time intensive and some new baking techniques for me but soooo worth it. I did have some water bath leakage but did not ruin it. I skipped the pureed pumpkin draining step and had no issues with the consistency of the cheesecake.. I was suprised at how much it makes I was able to serve 16.. Thanks for all you tips and recipes…


  42. Pumpkin!!! This is so good! I have a lot of pumpkins getting ready for harvest in my garden! So the kitchen will definitely be doing some hard work this coming Halloween.

  43. Hi Annie,
    I tried this recipe out and I followed the recipe exactly but my I cut the cheesecake the middle was totally mushy and runny. Is it possible to throw it back in the oven?

  44. Hi Annie,
    Thank you for your recipes! I made this cheesecake several days ago and was really happy with it! Only one thing (as always for my cheesecakes..) – it cracked slightly in the middle after I opened the oven. But to be honest, I hadn`t used water bath, only a bowl with water on the lower of the oven. Anyway, Pumpkin Cheesecake was absolutely delicious!

  45. This was awesome with a gingersnap cookie crust. Thanks for sharing!

  46. Annie,

    I love your blog! I also love pumpkin and am so excited to try this recipe. I thought you previously had another pumpkin cheesecake recipe that was a bit different and I can’t seem to find it on your site anymore. Did you delete it? Is there anyway to access it still?

    • Laura, it’s not posted anymore because I prefer this version. It was from Williams Sonoma if you want to look it up on their website.

  47. Wow! I can’t resist my mouth to be wide opened while reading your post. I should make this ASAP to make my cravenness to stop. LOL.

  48. Annie- I’m going to be making this cheesecake and your caramel apple cheesecake pie for family this Thanksgiving. However I have a question: I have a 8.5 and 9.5″ springform pan set and don’t want to buy another even though I want to have both made for the same day. Which pie should I make in the smaller pan? I’m thinking the caramel apple since I could simply add less apples if needed. Thoughts?

    • Neither of them will fit well in the smaller pan. You’ll just end up having to get rid of filling either way.

    • You could just make one in advance, remove it, and then make the second in the same pan.

      • Good point, thanks. I do have a bigger springform pan too. I may investigate the proportions used in smaller recipes and see if I can adapt the amounts instead.

  49. I made this cheesecake last week and it is excellent! It was my first attempt at a large cheesecake and I successfully made it with no cracks. Although I must not have had the foil go up high enough because water did get into my pan = ( Anyway, HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS!

  50. Annie have you ever frozen a cheesecake? I really want to make this for Thanksgiving but with the timing it would be so much easier to make this weekend (hopefully freeze it) and take it out for Thursday… thoughts?


    • I haven’t frozen a whole one, only pieces for the sake of portion control after making one. I would assume you could but I don’t have any experience with it. Good luck!

  51. Question – How would you change this recipe if you are allergic to nuts ( no spice, nutmeg, or pecans)? Would you change the amounts of the cinnamon, cloves, ginger?

    Thank you!

    • I’m not exactly sure, you would just have to experiment.

    • My niece has a nut allergy so I have done a little searching on this issue. From what I have found, I do not believe the spices in this recipe w/conflict w/the allergy. I would just eliminate the pecans. I have made the Pumpkin Cake w/Butterscotch buttercream (w/o the nuts) on this blog, and my niece ate it w/o any problems. You might want to research this on your own as well.

  52. Just finished making this cheesecake! It looks wonderful, but I have a question. I was hoping to bring it to a potluck tonight, but only have time to refrigerate for 2 hours. Should I even bother bringing it? Is the 4 hour refrigeration a must? Thanks!

    • Yes, in my experience even the 4 hours won’t be enough. Cheesecake must be very thoroughly chilled. Don’t bring it tonight!

  53. This may be a ridiculous question, but is pumpkin puree the same as the pumpkin pie filling? I couldn’t find anything puree….thanks!

  54. I made this tonight for Thanksgiving – a few lessons I learned (this was my first full-size cheesecake attempt) – wrap that aluminum foil TIGHT and to the rim. My crust got wet :(. I am going to re-make the crust and sprinkle it on top for serving so there is still the gingerbread crunch. Also my cheesecake cracked 😦 – I googled ‘why’ and it came back with to high of an internal temp – I put mine in the oven @ 325 for 75 minutes – when I checked the internal temp at that time it was just above 160. Next time, I’ll check it after an hour. The cheesecake itself is SUPER YUMMY (I tasted from the edges of the spring-form pan). To make it look wonderful I am going to put homemade whipped topping in the center and sprinkle it with the re-made gingerbread crust and candied pecans. Thanks Annie for sharing your recipes, they are so yummy!

  55. I made this cheesecake earlier today, smells incredible! First time with a waterbath and I’m nervous because when I took the foil off, I noticed a little bit of water was inside the foil. Do you think the cake got wet? Ugh…hope it’s not ruined! 🙂

  56. I made this for a bake sale, and it sold almost immediatly after a brought it! I must recreate this for my own family for thanksgiving!!

  57. Annie-
    Can I just say that you are simply a gift from the cooking and baking gods! I was introduced to your blog by a co-worker and have been a faithful follower ever since! We often have food days at work and I always get my recipes from your blogs. You’ve made my holidays taste better, you’ve made my everyday meals more flavorful and you have given me a little taste of heaven. Thank you for taking the time to share your recipes with everyone!
    Happy Holidays and I can’t wait to read your ideas for the upcoming holidays!!!

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