As soon as fall begins, my baking kicks into high gear. I get excited thinking about holiday baking and not only look forward to making some classic recipes but also look forward to creating some new and exciting ones as well. I’m a dessert gal and always have been. I’d choose to baking over cooking any day. I’ve even been known to whip up a Creme Brulee at midnight. I know. I’m so spontaneous, right? Well, that was pre-kids, when I had the time and energy to be spontaneous. Nowadays, I still love to bake but my requirements for a dessert recipe have changed. Since my time is limited, I really appreciate recipes that can be made in advance, especially when it comes to the holidays.
One of my favorite fall/holiday desserts is pumpkin cheesecake. I’ve made it year after year to rave reviews and it’s my go-to dessert to bring to parties because it’s seasonal, decadent and fairly simple to make. Best of all, it can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator, covered until you are ready to serve. Making desserts in advance is key during the holidays when time is at a premium and you have a million other dishes occupying your oven.
Each year I change it up a bit by combining my tried and true recipe with a different topping or crust. I’ve done everything from a chocolate crust to a gingersnap crust and all were delicious. But this year, I have to say, I’ve outdone myself with a chocolate chip cookie crust. OMG, right?!?!? It’s super simple and can be made using homemade or your store bought refrigerated cookie dough. Once you’ve tried this, you may never go back to the old graham cracker crust again. I bet it will be gorgeous as the base of a vanilla or chocolate cheesecake too. The possibilities are endless!!
Simple Tips for Cheesecake Success:
- -Always use room temperature ingredients.
- -Do not over mix the batter.
- -Use a well greased spring-form pan.
- -To prevent cracks, wrap the bottom and sides of your spring-form pan in foil and bake cheesecake in a water bath (bain marie) to prevent cracks.
- -Avoid opening the oven door while the cheesecake is baking.
- -Allow the cheesecake to cool completely on a wire rack before refrigerating.
- -Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen cake before releasing the spring.
- -For the perfect slice, always wipe a sharp knife clean with a damp cloth in between each cut.
- -If all else fails and your cake still cracks, cover it up with fresh whipped cream or fresh berries.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust
For the crust:
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) raw cookie dough – can be store bought or homemade
For the cheesecake:
3 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch springform pan. Press cookie dough into the bottom of the prepared pan creating an even layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes or just until it starts to look golden. Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cooled, wrap the bottom and sides of your pan with a double layer of foil and place in a roasting pan while you make your filling.
2. In the bowl of your standing mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until it is fluff and smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add in pumpkin puree, and eggs, one at a time. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides before adding in the rest of the ingredients. Mix until mixture is smooth and well combined. Pour into cooled crust.
3. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Pull out the middle rack of your oven and carefully place the roasting pan with cheesecake on it. Gently pour the hot water into the roasting pan so that the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the pan. Slowly push the oven rack into position and bake cheesecake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place onto a rack to cool completely before placing in the refrigerator. The cheesecake must chill for at least 2 hours before cutting. To slice, run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan before releasing springform. Cut into wedges and serve.