Pumpkin, Spice, and Everything Nice!

It's the beginning of pumpkin season in my nest. Now, I'm obviously late to the game, as pumpkin this and pumpkin spice that have been filling shelves, making appearances at restaurants, and finding their way into everything from your latte to the candle burning in the bathroom. Am I complaining? Not at all! I love the sweetness that comes with roasted pumpkin and the blend of spices associated with pumpkin pie is enough to make me swoon. So when we recently came home from our CSA Harvest Party with three plump pumpkins, I started planning the bake-a-thon right away.

We began with the smallest of the pumpkins, a knucklehead pumpkin that was a challenge to open, but produced incredibly sweet, yellow flesh upon roasting. Some of the roasted pumpkin found its way into pumpkin snickerdoodles, a bit more into a crockpot full of chili, and the rest found a home in this incredible cheesecake. Beautiful to look at and even more amazing to eat, it's surprisingly easy to make. I think of cheesecakes as a bit fussy in the baking spectrum, but this one was simple to put together and it really tastes like pumpkin. There are pumpkin cheesecake recipes out there that call for a cup or even less of pumpkin, but this one boasts a full two cups of freshly roasted pumpkin. You could use canned pumpkin, but again … this is what pumpkin season is for!

I opted to make my caramel-rum sauce for pouring over the top of the cheesecake. That, along with some crunchy pecan halves, made for a lovely topping that drizzled oh-so-seductively down the sides of the cheesecake and pooled at the edges of the cake plate. It's been a while since I've had this much fun photographing my kitchen adventures, too!

I hope you get a chance to enjoy this very seasonally focused treat. Sure, you can make it in the spring or the middle of summer, but there's really something about the coming of the cooler weather and showers of leaves through the sun-speckled canopy of color that autumn brings us that calls for rich desserts proudly displaying the flavors of the season. Happy fall!

Autumn's Best Pumpkin Cheesecake

  • 2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 stick melted salted butter
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages low fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and pumpkin pie spice. Add the melted butter and stir well. Press the mixture down flat into a 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. One at a time, add the pumpkin puree, eggs, heavy cream, sugar, and the spices, mixing after each addition. Add the flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into the crust. Spread out evenly and place in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

If desired, serve sprinkled with pecans and drizzled with caramel-rum sauce.

  • Yields: 10-12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 1/2 hours