Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake with Ginger Snap Crust

I hesitate to share this recipe because it is one of my favorites, and like other favorite things, sometimes it's nice to keep them to yourself. But it's Thanksgiving, and you may be wanting just one fabulous dessert, something that brings the best of cheesecake and pumpkin pie to the table. This big, moist cheesecake is cradled by a gingered graham cracker crust. It mixes up easily with fairly simple ingredients. There's nothing simple about its presentation or taste - both are spectacular and real show stoppers. This is not any one person's recipe. It's my adaptation of many cheesecake recipes, made to be my own. It was served at my daughter's wedding, one of the many items on the dessert table, playing second fiddle only to the wedding cake.

There's a formula to cheesecakes. For each half pound of cream cheese, it's one-quarter cup of sugar and one egg. So if this is too big for your cheesecake pan, change it by using three of everything: 3 packages of cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, 3 eggs... It's pretty simple, and you can always refer to your favorite cookbook since most include a variety of cheesecakes. This one is very good, and I hope you like it.

Oven 350 degrees F

Place top rack in middle of oven. On bottom rack below, place a cake pan filled with hot water to act as an indirect water bath. (This will minimize cracking after baking.)

Makes one 10-inch cheesecake


  • 1.5 sleeves graham crackers to make 2-2 1/2 cups crumbs (in blender or food processor)
  • 1 bar butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dry ginger

Mix all ingredients. Pour into base of spring form pan. Using the bottom of a metal measuring cup, press crumbs on bottom and half-way up sides of pan. Make sure the crumbs are tightly packed. Place pan in freezer while you prepare the batter.

Cheesecake batter:
  • 2 lbs. cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat cream cheese with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Add cornstarch and sour cream and beat until very smooth, scraping sides of bowl to incorporate all ingredients well.

Pour three cups of batter into separate bowl. Pour remaining batter in to pie crust. To the remaining batter in the bowl, beat in pumpkin and cinnamon, mixing very well. Drop pumpkin batter in dollops over the plain batter in pan. Using a large soup spoon, very loosely turn the batter over in large swirls. Take a butter knife and marble in one direction. Rotate the pan a half turn and marble the batter in the opposite direction.

Place cheesecake on cookie sheet on top rack in middle of oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Turn heat down to 320 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes. Turn oven off and leave cheesecake in oven, door propped open an inch, for an hour. Remove from oven. Let cool completely. Run thin knife around outside edge of cheesecake. Release spring form.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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  1. Could you use ginger snap cookies as the crust?

    1. Yes, you can use gingersnaps as the crust, and I have used them as well. It would be best to crush them well in a zippered food storage bag first because they can be hard on a food processor (depending on how hard they are). I almost burned out my small Kitchen Aid food processor trying to turn them into crumbs!