I know you might think it’s too late to make a pumpkin cheesecake in 2019, but I believe in you. I came up with this recipe for a work Thanksgiving potluck, because I wanted to bring something thematic but I didn’t want it to be the same old pumpkin pie. Let me tell you, this is one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. It has a great BALANCE of both flavors and textures. The cheesecake tastes very pumpkin-y while the topping speaks strongly of pecan pie. It’s the best of both worlds and I recommend you make it this week.
I originally wanted to make a pie that would work for our small, 4-person family Thanksgiving celebrations (aka a single pie that would satisfy a lot of tastes). My favorite pie is pumpkin, but I know a lot of people also really like pecan pie, so I wanted to try to include that for the spicy flavor and the added crunch. But I also wanted the pie to be a little unique, so I decided to try to go the cheesecake direction rather than a straight pumpkin pie. To develop this recipe I ADAPTED this pumpkin cheesecake from Food Network: I replaced some of the cream cheese with mascarpone for a richer flavor and used my own spice blend, modified the crust by adding browned butter an a bit of espresso for a bitter note, and topped it all off with unusually savory spiced pecans.
Browning Butter – Browning butter is so easy and can transform both savory and sweet dishes.
- Put a stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat
2. Once the butter is melted, stir constantly for about 5-6 minutes until it foams
3. When the foam dies down you will see the butter solids at the bottom beginning to brown but not burn. IMMEDIATELY remove from heat and pour into a glass measuring cup.
Below, the recipe:
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Candied Pecans
- 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 2 sleeves)
- ½ cup toasted ground pecans
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Toast pecans on a sheet pan for 10 min then grind finely in a food processor and remove to a bowl for measuring.
- Grind graham crackers in food processor until very fine. Add in pecans, sugar, cinnamon, espresso and process just to mix.
- Stream in the melted butter and process until evenly moistened.
- Pour into a greased 9in pie plate or springform pan and press firmly into a crust
- 20 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1.2 cup mascarpone cheese
- 15 oz canned pumpkin
- 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk, lightly scrambled
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp Diamond kosher salt
- In a large bowl or an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth
- Add the pumpkin, eggs, sour cream, sugar, spices, and salt and beat until combined
- Add the flour and vanilla and beat until well combined – no lumps
- Pour the filling into the crust and move the pan to the oven
- Immediately turn the heat down to 300°F and bake at least an hour, until the center is almost entirely set but the top is not burned
- Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 2 hours to cool to prevent cracking.
- Once the pie is completely cool, chill in the fridge.
Candied Pecan Topping:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder (or a spice blend of your choice)
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 4 cups pecan halves
- Lightly toast the pecan halves in the 350°F (or 300°F) for about 5 min
- Melt the butter in a large lightly colored skillet over medium heat
- Once the butter is melted, stir constantly for about 5-6 minutes until it foams, then the foam dies down and you can see the butter solids at the bottom beginning to brown but not burn. IMMEDIATELY remove from heat and pour into a glass measuring cup.
- Measure ¼ cup browned butter back into the skillet over medium heat (save the rest or use part of it for the crust) and add the sugar, syrup, water, salt, and spices
- Mix until the sugar is dissolved and it starts to bubble, then add the pecans and cook 5 min until the glaze is thickened
- Spread the pecans onto a greased cookie sheet and bake 10 min until golden.
- Before serving, arrange the pecans on the top of the cheesecake in whatever pattern you choose. You will have lots of leftovers, so happy snacking!
This was sweet, crunchy, salty, and festive. It held together great on cutting and was pretty easy to pull together. A great party recipe.