Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Bourbon Cheesecake

A very disturbing thing happened the other day. A wonderful and very thoughtful friend brought me a very sweet treat from a little bakery that shall remain nameless. The treat was supposed to be a Pumpkin Bourbon Cheesecake and I was excited to try something that sounded and looked so good. So you can imagine my disappointment when the treat was anything but sweet, not to mention completely lacking in taste. Don't you hate it when that happens? You expect to be wowed and end up ingesting something that could be mistaken for chalk. It's like a slap in the face!

There's not a lot that gets under my skin as much as bad food from a bakery whose sole purpose in life is to churn out great baked goods. In my insulted state, I did what anyone would do, I found a recipe and made my own. I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen and knew it would be amazing just from reading the ingredients. I switched out the graham cracker crumbs for ginger snaps and the result was fantastic and worked wonderfully with the pumpkin and spice filling. After tasting this, my bitterness over that bakery's utter failure, slowly faded away. I am now in a blissful state of forgiveness. Enjoy!

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from Gourmet, November 2003

Serves 12 to 14

For crust
3/4 cup ginger snap cookie crumbs ground up in the food processor (about 30 crackers)
1/2 cup pecans (1 3/4 ounce), finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) salted butter, melted and cooled

For filling
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

For topping
2 cups sour cream (20 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Garnish: fresh grated nutmeg

Make crust: Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter pan.

Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.

Make filling and bake cheesecake: Put oven rack in middle position and Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.

Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Make topping: Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 additional minutes.

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and serve.

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