As it often does, Thanksgiving rolled around again, and I needed a new dessert to serve, so what better idea than to include pumpkin as a flavoring. It also gave me the opportunity to use some crystallized ginger that I had purchased some months ago. I often mention that new pantry items help me to create my recipes and Trader Joe’s pumpkin flavored caramel sauce was one such item used in this recipe along with their pumpkin butter. I made the recipe a week ahead so I could work out the type of topping to use.
Ingredients for Crust:
1 3/4C crushed gingersnap cookies
1C almond meal
1 cube unsalted butter
After finely crushing the gingersnaps by placing them inside a large plastic bag and mashing them with a rolling pin, combine with the other dry ingredients, then with a fork mix in the room temperature butter until it is distributed throughout the other ingredients. If you squeeze some together in your hand and it does not crumble away and lose its shape it is ready to press into a spring form pan. If it does not hold its shape it needs more butter added gradually until it holds it shape. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Ingredients for Cheesecake:
3 8oz packages of Philadelphia Cream cheese
1 extra large eggs
1t vanilla paste
1C pumpkin pie filling
1T pumpkin pie spice
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Mix the room temperature cream cheese until creamy, then add the sugar and cream together. Add the vanilla flavoring and mix again, adding the eggs and beating until fully incorporated and creamy. Add the pumpkin pie filling and spice together, then mix into the cream cheese batter until very smooth.
Remove the crust from the refrigerator and fill it with the cheese cake batter. Place it in the oven on a center rack and bake approximately 45 minutes. Test with a toothpick to see if it is cooked. If the toothpick is not dry, it needs another 5 minutes. It’s important to fully cook a cheese cake or it will sink in the middle with the weight of the topping. After it is cooked, set it aside to cool while you make the topping.
Ingredients for Topping:
1 pint sour cream
1t vanilla paste
1 small jar pumpkin caramel
4 oz chopped toasted pecans
4 oz chopped crystallized ginger
Mix together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla paste. Spread it over the cheesecake. I usually start at the outside rim and work it toward the center so the thickest amount of topping is at the edge of the pan in hopes that it will keep the cheesecake from sinking in the middle. Place it back in the over for 10 minutes to set.
On my first try, I decided to add pumpkin butter to the top of the cheesecake to secure the white chocolate and also the pecans and ginger. The pumpkin butter had a lemon taste that I didn’t like, so ultimately I used the leftover canned pie filling instead to add another layer of pumpkin to the final product. By dividing the cake in half I could try two different types of finished topping. I like the grated white chocolate, but wanted something with more texture so I then added the toasted pecans and chopped crystallized ginger to the other half. Pretty good, but not perfect. I drizzled the pumpkin flavored caramel over them and had my “eureka “ moment.
On Thanksgiving day I placed a layer of the canned pie filling in the center, packed the toasted pecans and crystallized ginger into the center area and drizzled the pumpkin flavored caramel sauce all along the outer edges of the cheesecake with a little more in the center for good measure.