Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Praline Sauce

There are a lot of things I wanted to say about today's Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Praline Sauce, so much so that I started this post over more than once, each time with a different angle. For example:

I pondered maybe opening with how this dessert was so good, it quite possibly out-dazzled last week's daytrip to beautiful Frascati and the subsequent fancy evening at the opera, for not just me but also my sister and Dad who was in town (and he loves the opera!); 

I considered expanding on the fact that the Pecan Praline Sauce alone is one of the best things I've ever eaten or made -- not an exaggeration -- and when paired with the Pumpkin Cheesecake, was too good for words, the whole thing instantly earning a spot on my mental My Favorite Desserts I've Ever Made list; 

But wait! Here's what I'd focus on: how my colleagues, who'd spotted photos of this beauty on the blog's Facebook page, were visibly disappointed -- mutinous, even -- upon learning that the Pumpkin Cheesecake did not make it into the office on Monday morning; 

Never mind my colleagues, though, they get enough shout outs on this blog! I contemplated telling you instead about how my neighbor's 17 year old son was left speechless for a minute or so after his first bite of this cake, repeatedly muttering "quant'e buono...assurdo! assurdo,!" which, if you don't speak Italian translates to something like "This is so good, it's absurd!" He proceeded to eat the whole large piece that had been (theoretically) meant for his family of 4;

Then another idea came to me: maybe, just maybe, it would be best to take a simpler approach and describe the various elements of the cheesecake: the pumpkin-kissed cream cheese filling with not one, not two, not three, but four autumnal spices, all of which settle into the cake and intensify in the day or two after baking, as spices do; the sauce, which tastes exactly like pecan pie without the crust, a deeply brown sugar-y caramel loaded with crunchy pecans, so good that you'll wish you could swim in it or bathe in it or both; and the crust, made of toasty, buttery Biscoff cookies (the soulmate of a pumpkin cheesecake filling, I discovered) piled high up the sides of the cake, adding a wonderful crunchiness that contrasts with the perfectly smooth filling;

But no, just a second, I thought: here's what I'd do: I'd cut to the chase and tell you the most important thing here, which is that this recipe combines 3 desserts in one, or rather, it is essentially a pumpkin pie crossed with a cheesecake and served with a sauce reminiscent of pecan pie (the aforementioned crust does beg the question, though: does the combination of a cake, two pies, and Biscoff cookies actually tally the dessert-in-one-dessert count to not 3, but 4?!)

I couldn't quite decide what I wanted to write about in this post, but I think you get the gist of what I'm saying, right? Make this cheesecake for Thanksgiving and your guests will give thanks for your very presence at the meal. 'Nuff said.

A couple of notes: For the smoothest cheesecake filling, make sure your ingredients -- yogurt, eggs, cream cheese, etc -- are at room temperature. Cheesecakes have the unfortunate habit of cracking down the middle when they are baking or after they come out of the oven. If you want to prevent this, wrap the bottom of the springform pan tightly with 2-3 layers of aluminum foil (do this before putting the crust and filling, of course). When the cheesecake is ready to be baked, place it in a roasting pan with enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The steam from the water will circulate around the oven and ensure even baking and no cracks. When the cheesecake is fully baked, let it cool in the water bath out of the oven for about 30 minutes before removing it. As you can see from the photos I didn't do this, due to my small oven, but if you want an extra good looking cheesecake go for the water bath. The pecan praline sauce should be served warm, as it tends to harden at room temperature, and you might want to consider doubling the recipe -- I didn't, and I regretted it. I used Biscoff cookies for the crust which I absolutely loved, but if you can't find them in your supermarket I think gingersnap cookies or graham crackers would be delicious here as well. This dessert should be made the day before serving (perfect make ahead dessert!) so plan accordingly. 

Looking for cheesecake in a more portable form? I have these Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake Bars or these Cheesecake Swirl Brownies. Want more pumpkin recipes? Click here. Not in the mood for pumpkin cheesecake (your loss!)? I have Peanut Butter PiePumpkin PiePecan PieBrownie PiePecan Pie BarsBittersweet Chocolate Pear Cake, German Chocolate CakePumpkin Gingerbread CakeApple Cake, Pear and Chocolate Custard Tart, or Apple Crisp, among others. And don't worry, Apple Pie hasn't been left out of the mix -- check back next week! 


Ingredients for the crust:
1 box Biscoff cookies (250 grams)
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Ingredients for the filling:
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces, or 672 grams) cream cheese
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
4 eggs
1 15 ounce can (420 grams) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup (125 grams) plain whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons (16 grams) flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Large pinch of salt

Ingredients for the sauce:
1/2 cup (85 grams) light brown sugar
6 tablespoons (84 grams) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons (45 grams) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (about 100 grams) roughly chopped pecans

Start with the crust. Melt the butter (either in a microwave or in a small pot on the stove over low heat). Set it aside to cool. In a food processor, reduce the biscoff cookies to crumbs (alternatively you can also place the cookies in a large plastic bag and crush them by going over the bag with a rolling pin). Pour the crumbs in to a 9-inch springform pan, add the melted butter directly to the pan, and toss the crumbs with the butter. Press the buttery cookie crumbs down into the pan and up the sides. You can use a glass to press the crumbs down make a clean edge (I used an empty Nutella jar, as you can see below). Put the crust in the freezer to set.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and move on to the filling. In a large bowl (larger than the one I used -- as you can see below, I had to switch bowls half way through!) use a standing mixer or electric beaters to beat the cream cheese with the sugar until fluffy and light. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the flour, then the yogurt, and then add the pumpkin and beat the mixture until well combined. Add the extract, spices, and salt and beat briefly again. Take the crust out from the freezer and pour the filling into the crust. Bake the cheesecake in the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and the center is set. Let the cheesecake cool completely and then refrigerate overnight.
Make your spectacularly delicious praline sauce! In a saucepan over  low heat, melt together the brown sugar, cream, butter, and salt. Bring to a simmer and let bubble and cook until thick, about 4 minutes. Take off the heat and add the vanilla extract and pecans. Let cool slightly.
Cut the cheesecake into slices and serve with the warm pecan praline sauce (swoon!) Serves about 12-14 people, depending on how big you cut your slices. 
Cheesecake filling very slightly adapted from www.epicurious.com; Pecan Praline sauce from www.smittenkitchen.com.

1 comment :

  1. Fantastica, leggere il post mi ha fatto venire l'acquolina in bocca.