Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Praline Pumpkin Cheesecake

I'm a HUGE fan of cheesecake and even a bigger fan of pumpkin. So, when I came across this recipe it was instant excitement. Cheesecake is a relatively easy thing to make, so it's fun to mix it up with different ingredients. I often head down the road to The Cheesecake Factory to pick up their latest creation. Last year, it was a special trip to try their red velvet cheesecake...yum! Enjoy this fun twist on basic cheesecake, but make sure to share as it is WAY too easy to eat the whole thing yourself. Enjoy!

Praline Pumpkin Cheesecake
Ginger Crust:
- 2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (about 40 cookies)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Pumpkin Filling:
- 3 (8oz) packages of cream cheese at room temp (I used reduced fat)
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 (15oz.) can pure pumpkin
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger (You won't use this that often, but you can use it to also make the Ginger Pandowdy I made a while ago next week!)

Pumpkin Topping:
- 1 cup pecans (I actually wanted more pecans, so I used 2 cups total)
- 1/2 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt

To make the crust:
1. Line the bottom of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the crushed gingersnaps with the melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

3. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.

4. Preheat the oven to 350* F. (in the meantime bowl a pot of water on the stove - you'll need it in a bit)

To make the filling:
1. Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl for about a minute, or until fluffy.

2. Add the sugar and beat until mixed well.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 20 seconds in between each addition.

4. Add the vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; beat until incorporated (about 1 minute).

* Make sure it's fully mixed! You'll notice in my picture, I missed the "fully mixed" step :)

5. Pour the filling over the crust and put the springform pan into a larger baking pan and set it on the center rack of the oven. *Pour enough boiling water into the larger pan, so that it reaches 1/2 way up the pan.

6. Bake for 1 hour, until the filling is set and golden brown. Make sure to WATCH after 45 minutes as it will start browning quickly once it hits that point.

7. Cool the cheesecake on a rack for about 30 minutes, then chill for several hours or overnight.

8. Once cooled, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and set it on a serving plate.

To make the praline topping:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them for 8 minutes, until golden brown. Then coarsely chop the nuts.

2. Stir together the brown sugar, cream, and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and boil for about 1 - 2 minutes, adjusting the heat to make sure it doesn't boil over.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, and pecans.

4. Cool the topping at least 15 minutes before pouring over the top of the chilled cheesecake.

5. Serve immediately OR keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

WOW! Amazing!

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