This is Christie.
Christie recently married this guy, Ryan.
Ryan is the older brother to these girls.
Yes, that’s me. And yes, I just took a really long time to explain that Christie is my sister-in-law. But I promise it was worth it, kay? (And yes, the other girl is my sister Caiti. But she’s a story for another day.)
ANYHOO, Christie is my sister-in-law. She became my sister-in-law at the beginning of October, in a beautiful (and cold!) wedding at Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe. 2 weeks later was Christie’s birthday. So basically, the month of October is Christie month here. I’m pretty sure she planned it that way
A week before her birthday, my mom was asking her what she wanted for her birthday dinner. “Sausage, chili, and a pumpkin cheesecake with caramel sauce”. Well, my hand immediately shot up at the mention of cheesecake like I was in elementary school and playing heads-up Seven-Up. Because, I love cheesecake. But more than cheesecake, I love making cheesecake. There are just so many ways to go about cheesecake, from chocolate marble, to raspberry, to traditional New York cheesecake, the possibilities are endless. So, I happily volunteered for the job of cheesecake maker.
Now, there are two different ways to bake a cheesecake: straight baking in the oven or in a water bath. In the oven, no water bath, creates a denser, creamier, more torte-like consistency. I find this is the best method for cheesecakes being made with heavier and heartier ingredients: sweet potato, peanut butter, traditional New York style, and pumpkin. Baking cheesecake in a water bath results in a much lighter, fluffier cheesecake, with more of a custard or flan-like consistency. I like to bake fruit and chocolate flavored cakes this way. Either way though, you’re getting a damn-good dessert. Seriously. I have yet to have a bad cheesecake (knock on wood).
But back to Christie’s pumpkin cheesecake. I knew I wanted to do a no-water bath cake, I knew I wanted to do a gingersnap crust (best pairing for pumpkin), and I knew I wanted it to be real creamcheese-y. I have a basic cheesecake “base” that I’ve adapted over the years that works really well for most styles.
I will get better at this photo-taking thing, I promise
I personally like to do a combination of cream cheese to ricotta cheese; it creates the creamiest and silkiest texture. I also prefer to forgo the pre-packaged “pumpkin pie spice” usually advised for these types of cheesecakes. My favorite spice ratio is 1 part nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves to 2 parts cinnamon and ground ginger. It’s a little spicier and richer and very gingery. But feel free to adapt it to whatever your tastes suit. I also use less of the pumpkin than most recipes call for; I prefer it more cheesecake and less pumpkin pie.
As for the caramel sauce, I used a great recipe I’ve used many times before; butter, sugar, heavy cream. You can add vanilla extract to make it more fragrant or sea salt for more of a fleur de sel caramel flavor. It’s a fantastic sauce for topping any type of dessert, but it went especially well with the pumpkin cheesecake.
And Christie seemed very happy, which was the most important part. Shawn, who also gets a cheesecake every year on his birthday, tried to hoard the remainder of the cake, but to no avail. It went pretty quick, but when doesn’t cheesecake with caramel sauce go quick? But don’t just read about awesome pumpkin cheesecake, make some for yourself. You won’t be sorry. THG
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce
2 cups gingersnap crumbs
4 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a medium size bowl, combine gingersnap crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Mix until all crumbs are coated with butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9” spring-form pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden-brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the cream and ricotta cheeses together until fluffy. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add spices and mix until just incorporated.
Pour cheesecake filling into prepared spring-form pan with the crust. Bake in the center of the oven for 45-60 minutes, until set but still slightly jiggly in the center. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the cake and refrigerate at least 2 hours until set.
1 cup sugar
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a medium saucepan, heat sugar over medium-high heat. Whisk continuously while sugar melts. When sugar begins to boil, stop whisking. Watch carefully. When the sugar has reached a light amber color, immediately remove from heat and add butter. Whisk until all butter is melted. Add cream and whisk until smooth. Allow caramel sauce to cool to room temperature in saucepan. When cooled, pour into a glass jar and refrigerate. When using the sauce, microwave in jar 20-30 seconds to heat up.
Serves 8-10 slices