Every few years I re-share this recipe – it never, ever gets old, because well, it’s a unique tradition to us. We’ve been making this as our Thanksgiving dessert since 2004. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. Really. It is. But, then again, it’s also tough to believe a lot of things about time – that we’ve been married for almost 16 years, that our oldest son is 15, and that our youngest son is already 11. Time just keeps moving and bringing new adventures every year.
I should start by saying, I love pumpkin. I love cheesecake. And I’m not really a fan of pumpkin pie. I couldn’t really tell you why. Maybe it’s a texture thing. I love a pumpkin spice muffin, I’ll take a cookie or piece of cake any day, and the pumpkin spice latté has been the downfall of my holiday diet many years running. But, I never, ever have trouble turning down a slice of pumpkin pie. (And that’s no offense to those of you who love it.)
I’m here to offer up an alternative to those of you who may feel differently. And, I promise – even for pie lovers, whenever I bring this dessert for a holiday gathering, I’ve never brought home a slice. In fact, I’ve felt guilty because the traditional pumpkin pie was kinda abandoned. It’s just too good to resist. I’ve seen other recipes start to appear over the years, but I promise, this one won’t disappoint. Each time I re-post the recipe, I make little tweaks for our flavor preferences, or changes that have made the cheesecake even better.
Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
1-3/4 c. crushed gingersnaps
1 c. crushed graham crackers
4 T. melted, unsalted butter
3 T. granulated sugar
Tip: Before starting any cheesecake, pull the cream cheese and eggs out of the fridge several hours early, so they can come to room temperature. This allows them to incorporate evenly, and quickly, and makes for the best cheesecakes. In a pinch, if I’ve forgotten to pull the eggs, I place them in a bowl of warm water to remove the chill.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Store bought gingersnaps are very, um, hard. So, I snap them in halves and quarters as I place them in my food processor, and pulse them to crush. Breaking them up a bit before processing helps them to crush more evenly. You can also use a small, open top coffee bean grinder, it just takes a bit longer since you’ll have to work in small batches. I keep one in my cupboard for grinding up small amounts of crackers, oats, etc., that comes in really handy.
Measure and pour the 1-3/4 cups of crushed gingersnaps into a medium sized bowl to mix the crust.
Crush the graham crackers in the food processor or coffee bean grinder in the same manner. Then, measure and add them to the bowl with the gingersnaps. Add the sugar and melted butter, then toss to mix. Press into the bottom and sides of a 8″ springform pan. (You can also use a 9″ pan, for larger, slightly less thick slices.0 Tip: I find a highball glass to be the best way to press the crackers up the sides, and get and even coating of crumbs around the pan.
Bake for 8-10 minutes in your preheated oven, and set aside to cool.
3 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese (softened)
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs (room temp)
In a large sized bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until it’s smooth and creamy. DO NOT WHIP. Add the 3/4 c. of sugar and mix until incorporated. Scrape the sides, then add the vanilla, and one egg at a time, stopping to scrape the bowl in between each egg addition.
Measure 1-1/2 cups of the plain vanilla batter out, and set it aside in a separate bowl.
To the remaining vanilla batter, add:
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
Blend together with a whisk or wooden spoon, until fully incorporated.
(Before moving on, please check out my keylime cheesecake recipe post for details on how to wrap your pan, and create a waterbath. It also shows how the bar glass is great for shaping the crust!)
Pour half of the pumpkin filling into the crust. Drop spoonfuls of half of the vanilla cheesecake batter into the pan. Repeat with the remaining pumpkin and vanilla batter. Gently swirl a bit with a knife.
Bake for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit in a waterbath. I always look for the middle of the cheesecake to be raised and fluffy looking. Remove the cheesecake when it’s fully baked. Cool on a wrack at room temperature for 8 hours, then move to the fridge to chill.Top with whipped cream to serve.
1 c. heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2- 1 tsp real vanilla extract
Pour the heavy cream into a mixing bowl, and add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip on high speed with an electric mixer until it’s light and fluffy.
This Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake is even better the second day! Enjoy!