Tired of pumpkin pie? Try pumpkin cheesecake

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

You’ve got to love Facebook. Where else could you learn that if you put your PIN in backward the ATM will automatically call the police or that apple cider vinegar will cure every illness known to mankind?

My favorite social media revelation is that canned pumpkin contains no pumpkin.

If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin to make a jack-o’-lantern, this won’t come as a big surprise. Beautiful as they are, those big orange globes are not meant for eating.

Libby’s, the quintessential producer of canned pumpkin, makes no secret of this. On its website, the company states that its product contains a variety of pumpkin called Dickinson. If you check out a picture, you will see that the Dickinson resembles a butternut squash more than a pumpkin. This is all perfectly legal, as the FDA has better things to do than quibble over the naming of an orange-fleshed winter vegetable.

As much as we like to decorate our porches with those rotund orange specimens, not everyone is a fan of pumpkin pie. A holiday alternative that everyone will love is pumpkin cheesecake. It is a little bit of work, but it produces a large cheesecake that is perfect for family gatherings.

If you’ve ever made a cheesecake from scratch, you know the disappointment when it emerges from the oven with a big crack down the middle. To avoid that problem, this pumpkin cheesecake is coated with a layer of sour cream and then baked again, producing a top layer with no fault lines. The gingersnap crust ensures that the cheesecake will fulfill all of your pumpkin spice cravings.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Note: Before you begin, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.

2 cups gingersnaps crumbs (from about ½ pound cookies)

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

1/2 cup light brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 cups sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 91/2-inch or 10-inch springform pan and coat lightly with flour. In a medium bowl, toss the gingersnap crumbs with the melted butter until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs into the bottom and 1 inch up the side of the prepared pan. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the crust begins to color. Let the crust cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar and all of the brown sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin and heavy cream with 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined.

Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 70 minutes, or until the edges are firm and the center is still slightly shaky.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and pour on the sour cream topping. Gently tap the pan to spread the topping, and continue baking for 10 more minutes.

Transfer the cheesecake to a rack and let cool for 1 hour. Remove the side of the pan and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at julietrulie11@gmail.com.