Pumpkin Cheesecake


2 cups crushed gingersnaps (or vanilla wafers or graham crackers)
1/4 cup melted butter
2 Tbsp sugar


3 8-oz packages cream cheese
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup pureed pumpkin or squash (canned is fine)
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt


1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp sugar

Heat oven to 375 degress; Grease an 8-inch springform pan.

Crust: Combine the crushed gingersnaps, butter and sugar in a food processor and mix well. (you can do in a bowl, but the blender can be used to crush the gingersnaps and why dirty an extra bowl.)
Press into the bottom and about 1-inch up the sides of the greased pan. Bake 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Filling: In a medium bowl beat cream cheese until smooth and no lumps remain. Scape the sides often to prevent little white lumps in the final cheesecake. Add sugar and beat again to mix completely. This is your last chance to get those lumps out. Add eggs, one at a time beating and scraping sides after each addition. Add pumpkin, spices and salt, stirring by hand. You don't want to over beat and incorporate too much air; that leads to cracking. Pour cheese mixture into crust. Bake 50 minutes, or until the center of the cheesecake just jiggles when given a little shake. (We recommend wrapping the pan with aluminum foil before pouring and cooking the cake in a hot water bath. It will take much longer to bake, but you are less likely to have a cracked top)

Topping: Mix the sourcream and sugar and spread over the cake. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool for an hour or more. Refrigerate overnight before removing from pan and serving.

A variation that ran in the 28 Oct 2009 issue of the Courier Journal was the Pumpkin-Praline Cheese Cake.
The filling varied slightly:
2 Cups pumpkin puree or 1-15 oz can
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
 1/2 tsp nutmeg    
(instead of this, I used 2-tsp pumpkin pie spice, which needed to be doubled as there wasn't much "pie" taste in the finished product

The biggest difference was the incorporation of pralines.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
To make the pecan-praline pieces and powder: use a large baking sheet lined with foil; set aside. In a heavy skillet, place the 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, shaking skillet occasionally until sugar begins to melt. Do not stir. Reduce heat to low. Stir in the chopped pecans; cook about 3 minutes more or until sugar is golden brown and pecans are toasted, stirring occasionally.
Pour the iture onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading with a wooden spoon as thinly as possible. Cool. Break or chop the cooled praline into 1/4-inch pieces. Set half of it aside. Fro pecan-praline power, place remaining broken pieces in a blender/food processor and blend until ground. Store in a separate container in frefrigerator or freezer up to 1-week ( I found that when I got finished chopping, I had plenty enough power)
After all of the filling has been mixed, stir in the pecan-praline pieces, reserving the power for the top.
Just before serving, sprinkle the powder over the sour cream topping and garnish with pecan halves, if desired.
(I think that if I could find pecan-pralines in a store, I'd be tempted to try that instead of making my own)