Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger-Almond Crust

I made Tish Boyle's Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Pecan Almond Crust twice this month already so it's only fair that I share this gem of a dessert with all of you. The recipe can be found in Tish's book The Cake Book, as well as her blog (yes, I'm a big fan!) :o) One of the first things that stood out for me was the crust. Instead of the traditional graham cracker crust, Tish offers a shortbread crust made with toasted nuts and finely chopped crystallized ginger. The only change I made was substitute almonds for the pecans. The other aspect about this recipe that caught my attention was the use of spices in the filling. Last year, I made my first pumpkin cheesecake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, which didn't have any spices, yet, it tasted heavenly and pumpkin-y.

For a little extra oomph (and to hide a few craters from accidentally dropping the cheesecake - oops), I decorated the cheesecake with Pumpkin Mousse

Let's start baking. First, the crystallized ginger needs to be chopped.

Then comes the really easy part: the dough for the crust is made in a food processor. The butter is added later.

Now add the cold butter, cut into small cubes, and a small amount of water (rather than adding 1 Tbsp, I ended up adding only 1 tsp of water which was enough for my dough to come together).

The crust is done. And you don't even have to roll it out. All you do is pat it onto the bottom of your 9" spring form pan and bake it for about 25 min.

What's the ramekin doing there? Two words: Quality Control :o)

Now it's time to make the filling. Whenever you make cheesecake, make sure your cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature. Although some recipes have you take the cream cheese out of the fridge hours before you need it, I like to use the microwave to speed up that process. To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, I use a bowl of hot tap water and put the eggs in it. You'll have room temp eggs in about 5-10 minutes.

The pumpkin/spice/cream mixture is added to the sugared cream cheese mixture before the eggs are added, one at a time
I always use a water bath when baking a cheesecake, whether a recipe instructs me to do so or not. This prevents all sorts of problems like cracking. It also gives the cheesecake, which is really a custard, a velvety smooth and creamy texture.

Although I'm not a big fan of silicon baking pans, in this application, nothing is more perfect. It sure beats using heavy duty aluminum foil every time.
The mini-cheesecake that was baked in the ramekin was done after 30 minutes or so. The big cheesecake took about 65-70 minutes in a 325 F oven. Let it cool completely and then refrigerate it.

Bon Appetit indeed!

You can serve the cheesecake as-is, or drizzle it with caramel sauce. And if you really want to kick it up a notch, or you just need to hide some, uhm, minor flaws that came about from accidentally dropping the cheesecake, say, from a height of 4 feet onto the flour, try this Pumpkin Mousse recipe; also by Tish Boyle (I told you I'm a big fan!) :o) I made only half a recipe which yielded about 2 to 2.5 cups of mousse. The changes I made to the mousse recipe can be found in the "Final thoughts/tips" section below.

Final thoughts/tips:
  • Hubby loved this cheesecake and gave it a 9.5 out of 10. Score!! He preferred "version 1" of the cheesecake which had no Pumpkin Mousse. "Version 2" with the Pumpkin Mousse got a 9 out of 10. My guests also loved this cheesecake but I didn't ask them to rate it :o)
  • I loved it too and broke my "1-piece" rule. The crust is amazing; it has so much flavor. I toasted the almonds first which brought out a lot of flavor. And the crystallized ginger was surprisingly mellow and overpowering at all. The cheesecake part was wonderful too; creamy, spicy, pumpkin-y, and not overly sweet or too dense.
  • When I made the crust, I used only 1 tsp of water instead of 1 Tbsp because that's all my dough needed to come together.
  • Pumpkin Mousse changes: I combined the pumpkin and the cream directly in the pan, without using the food processor. Instead of dark rum, I subbed an equal amount of orange juice. I used 1.5 tsp of kosher gelatin which I dissolved in 5 tsp of cold water. Once it bloomed (about 5 minutes), I added it to the hot pumpkin mixture, right before taking it off the stove.
  • Once again, here are the recipe links: Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake and Pumpkin Mousse. Do try it. You won't be disappointed :o)


  1. The pumpkin mousse one looks amazing! I'll have to try baking my cheesecakes in a water bath next time. Mine always have cracks!

  2. You are so right about the silicone baking pans - they are perfect for protecting springform pans in a water bath (something I used to loath messing around with when foil was involved).

    I like your almond substitution as well, and wow, your finished presentation is fabulous!!


  3. This sounds like a delicious dessert. Your photo is gorgeous!

  4. It's very beautiful Hanâa! Caroline B. Have a nice day!

  5. Hanaa, my gosh it's magnificent!

  6. my husband is a big fan of cheesecake, I have to try this one. It is so beautiful, Hanaa. I love it!

  7. What can I say, Hanaa-- you're a superstar! If only I could pipe as well as you...Thanks!

  8. I love that book! I have it and have bake some really good desserts from it! Thanks for providing the link to the authors blog! I'm now a new fan!

    I don't like pumpkin, but this looks seriously good.

  9. Your cheesecake is stunning Hanaa! I love the way you piped the mousse over it.

  10. The cheesecake looks amazing! I am not a huge cheesecake fan, but they're fun to make and always a hit. I love the tip of using a silicon pan instead of foil.

  11. Thank you all so much for stopping by and your nice comments.

    @Tish: you're too kind! Thanks for posting the recipes on your blog.

  12. What a beautiful cake!! And I love your idea of using a silicone pan to protect your springform from the water bath -- genius!! I am going to do that from now on.

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog - yours is fantastic, I'll be back!

  13. I think that's the prettiest cheesecake I've seen! Great idea to pipe on the pumpkin mousse.

  14. That looks so delicious. I love that you hid the "errors" with pumpkin mousse!

  15. Great job disguising any imperfections, Hanaa! If they're there, I sure can't see them. Looks scrumptious in every way. I made a nice pumpkin cheesecake a couple years ago, that had a really good gingersnap crust. Can't even remember what recipe I used. This one you made, though, sure sounds like a nice recipe. Can't go wrong with Tish's stuff, that's for sure!

  16. I had totally forgotten about the larger silicone pan I went to the trouble to acquire! As always, this is so gorgeous.

  17. Listen... how about me coming up and you teaching me how to pipe those fabulous borders? I so want to be able to do that!
    Gorgeous cake Hanaâ

  18. This looks amazing Hanaa! I love how you decorated this cheesecake...looks so elegant! Seems like The Cake Book has a lot of cheesecake recipes which I just LOVE. Can't wait to get my hands on her book!


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