It may seem a touch arrogant to claim that this pumpkin cheesecake is “the best”, but I feel somewhat qualified to give it that distinction. You see, I have a certified cheesecake expert in our home (The Godfather), and given our time away from the more selective cheesecake-consuming metropolitan areas, I had to learn to make a really really good cheesecake. One that’s creamy but not slick, has texture but isn’t crumbly, sweet but not cloying, cheesecake that would make the Godfather look at me when we are in New York enjoying a slice at a deli and say “your cheesecake is just as good or better”. That is how we make cheesecake here.
This recipe was derived from my standard cheesecake and created for a photography workshop hosted last year by Folks Photography. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it early enough that it had time to cool properly, but it still tasted great. I wanted to make a gluten-free dessert because another vendor at the event recently realized that gluten didn’t agree with her and had chosen to eliminate it from her diet. I wanted to be sure she’d have a dessert to enjoy, and this flavor combination just seemed so very appropriate for fall. Who doesn’t have a great pumpkin cheesecake recipe?
I think this would make a great gluten free dessert for Thanksgiving if you have guests with gluten sensitivities. Just make sure they get a piece before everyone else devours it!
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 7 oz pecans
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4 1/2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (36 ounces), softened
- 3/4 c pure pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 c gluten-free flour (I use coconut or rice flour)
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Chantilly Cream (optional)
- 1 c heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- Preheat your oven to 425 F
- Butter or use non-stick spray to coat the inside of a 9" springform pan. Place a fitted parchment paper circle around the bottom of the pan to make transferring the cheesecake easier. Wrap the outside of the pan in foil. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter has browned. Then remove from the heat immediately.
- While the butter is browning, place your pecans in a food processor and pulse until you have a medium-fine meal, about 5-7 1 second pulses. Combine the pecan meal and the cinnamon in a bowl.
- When the butter has browned, pour over the pecan mixture and stir well to combine. Press the crust evenly into the cheesecake pan and set aside.
- Combine the flour and spices (not the vanilla bean) for the cheesecake in a small bowl and set aside.
- Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, whip the cream cheese and pumpkin together at medium speed until well combined and slightly fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Scrape the vanilla bean and add the seeds to the mixing bowl.
- Dump the entire dry mixture into the bowl and stir on low speed until just combined.
- Pour the cheesecake filling into your spring-form pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.
- Place the spring-form pan into a water bath. To create a water bath, place the spring-form pan into a larger pan and fill the larger pan with water halfway up the side of the spring-form pan (this is why the foil wrapping is important!).
- Place the water bath and cheesecake in the oven and bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. Then, without opening the door, lower the temperature to 350 F and bake an additional 30-35 minutes until the cheesecake is set but the center still jiggles slightly (this prevents over-baking).
- When the cheesecake is done baking, turn off the oven and prop the oven door open. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath and place on a cooling rack for another 30 minutes. Then you can transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator to chill. The cheesecake can be made up to two days in advance.
- Optional: Make the Chantilly cream just before serving. Place well-chilled heavy cream in your stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. Slowly increase the speed to high. Add the sugar and vanilla bean seeds and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Do not over-whip or you'll end up with butter. 😉 Serve immediately.