No-bake cheesecake used to be my jam. Mix some cream cheese with some sticky sweetened condensed milk, pour that goodness over a graham cracker crust (store-bought. obviously.), and, if you’re feeling really fancy, add some strawberry sauce (you can buy that at the grocery store, too. It’s literally called “strawberry sauce,” and I have no idea what’s actually in it). Top that baby with a whole tub of Cool Whip. Done and done.
This is the stuff of my childhood.
If you had told my 12-year-old self that cheesecake was actually supposed to be baked, she would have laughed in your face.
Cheesecake doesn’t go in the oven, you fool.
Clearly, the joke’s on me, because a traditional cheesecake is, in fact, baked. And it’s 486757882601 times better than it’s no-bake counterpart. Truth.
Once I discovered real cheesecake, there was no going back. A good cheesecake has a delicate and creamy texture that the no-bake version lacks. It’s light and smooth and so much more complex.
So why do we avoid making cheesecakes?
Is it the springform pan? The hot water bath? The almost 2-hour bake time?
I get it. But here’s the thing: you can do it.
Sure, it takes a little more time and attention, but it’s 100% worth it. Give it a try. And even if you end up with a few cracks the first time around, I promise it will still taste incredible.
Obviously, you should start with this pumpkin cheesecake. It’s spicy and pumpkin-y and has the most outrageous gingersnap-hazelnut crust that you’ll want to eat by the spoonful right out of the food processor. Not gonna lie: this baby is a top contender for my Thanksgiving table this year. Move over, pumpkin pie. We’re all about pumpkin cheesecake this year.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap-Hazelnut Crust
Recipe courtesy of Saveur
Start to finish: 6 hours
For the gingersnap-hazelnut crust
1 1⁄4 cups (about 8 ounces) finely ground gingersnap cookie crumbs
3⁄4 cup (about 4 ounces) finely ground hazelnuts
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
For the filling
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
1⁄2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1⁄3 cup maple syrup
3 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream, room temperature
For the crust
Heat oven to 325° F. Wrap the outside of a 9″ springform pan tightly with foil and set aside.
Combine gingersnap crumbs, hazelnuts, butter, and brown sugar in a food processor, and process until evenly combined.
Transfer to pan and press evenly into bottom and halfway up side; bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool and set aside.
For the filling
Set a kettle of water to boil.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until evenly incorporated. Add cream, syrup, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and pumpkin, and mix until smooth.
Pour filling over crust and place springform pan into a large roasting pan; pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up side of springform pan.
Bake until filling jiggles slightly in the center when the pan is tapped on the side, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Whisk together sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and sour cream in a medium bowl until smooth; set aside.
When cheesecake is done baking, pour sour cream topping over filling and gently smooth top; continue baking for 5 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath and let cool completely to room temperature.
Chill until set, at least 4 hours or overnight, before serving.