Holiday Pumpkin Cheescake

Posted by francis keyser Monday, February 20, 2012
Taste Level: TF
Cost: $20 and under
Serves: 8
Prep Time: 25-30 min.
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 min.

Chill Time: 8-24 hours
Difficulty: 2

Zo was reading a Southern Living at the end of 2011 and saw a recipe for a pumpkin cheesecake.  She went ahead and made it and we thought it was pretty darn good.  I made the off hand comment that they really missed an opportunity by not having a gingersnap crust and that it could use a little more zing to help blend the cheesecake and pumpkin flavors.  Zo and I put our heads together and settled on adding 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg to the recipe.  Switch to neufchatel cheese to make it creamier and then do away completely with the pecans and gram crackers and go with a gingersnap crust.  The result?  We let everyone try our version that we had let try the Southern Living version and they all agreed it was not just a little better but much better!  The little extra seasonings and the ginger snap crust really give it that Holiday flavor and smell that helps the cake completely come together as one of the best Holiday time desserts you will ever have.  This cake is so tasty I would suggest to pair it with any heavy flavored meal you have throughout the year.

Ingredients:
Cheesecake
2 1/3 cups gingersnap crumbs
5 tbsp butter (melted)
3 tbsp light brown sugar
4 (8 oz) packages neufchatel cream cheese (softened)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Praline Topping
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cheesecake 
Preheat oven to 325°.

Stir together ginger snaps, butter and brown sugar in a medium mixing bowl until well blended. Press mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Beat neufcahtel cheese, sugar and vanilla at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended and smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add pumpkin, ground Cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg and lemon juice, beating until blended. Pour batter into prepared spring form pan crust.

Bake cheesecake at 325° for 1-1 hour hour and 10 minutes or until almost set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven, with door closed, 15 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven, and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. (Do not remove sides of pan.) Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

Remove sides and bottom of pan, and transfer cheesecake to a serving plate and the top with Praline topping.

Topping
Heat sugar, whipping cream and butter to a boil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Let boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Let stand for 5 minutes whisking occasionally.  Immediately pour slowly over top of cheesecake, spreading to edge of cheesecake and letting drizzle down the sides.

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