Creamy pumpkin cheesecake crowned with a rich praline topping is the perfect dessert for the holidays. So good you’ll make it year round!
Traditional Desserts For The Holidays
This time of the year, many of us are planning our Thanksgiving dinners.
While turkey and trimmings is pretty much the standard for the main course, many of us turn our more creative thoughts to the desserts. A custard pumpkin pie is the traditional American favorite, but do you have anyone on your guest list who’s not a big fan of the traditional pie?
This cheesecake may be just what you’re looking for. While most of my guests love the traditional, I always had one or two who were not fans. Funny enough, neither my late husband nor I were big fans of the standard pumpkin pie so I was always looking for alternatives.
Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake–Traditional But Different
This cheesecake is traditional enough to satisfy pumpkin pie lovers, yet it’s different enough for those who want something different.
It’s got a graham cracker crust, but you can also make it with cinnamon grahams for a more intense spiciness. You could also use ginger snaps in place of the grahams for a more intense flavor. Whenever I’ve made this with the ginger snap crust, it always got rave reviews. I’ve never used Oreo crumbs for the crust, but if you have any lovers of pumpkin paired with chocolate, it’d be an interesting combination.
Some Cheesecake Baking Caveats
You will always bake a successful cheesecake if you follow these rules. With this cheesecake, it is very important because the second part of the baking process is “blind” so you won’t be able to judge it’s doneness. Just follow these rules and you’ll be OK.
- Have all ingredients at room temperature–cream cheese, eggs and cream
- Don’t overbeat–if you do, the cake will rise due to the air incorporated and as it cools, it will fall in the center. This isn’t very tragic. It just won’t look as good as it should
- Don’t skip the waterbath–it’s essential. Cheesecakes are actually custards and using a water bath (aka bain marie) keeps the cake creamy from stem to stern
- Have a large roasting pan to use for the waterbath. Place a folded kitchen towel, dish cloth or washcloth in the center to set the springform pan on. This prevents the crust from scorching (and will also sterilize your towel LOL). It’s easier to place the springform pan in the roasting pan BEFORE adding the batter and the boiling water for the waterbath. Place the roasting pan (with the filled springform pan inside) on the oven rack then pour in the boiling water. You will need about 1-2-inches of water.
- Don’t open the oven door until the minimum bake time is up. This cake must bake for a set time before adding the topping. And don’t add the topping at the beginning. You can’t cheat with this one.
- After the baking time is complete, TURN OFF THE OVEN and leave everything in the oven (no peeking) for ONE HOUR. This is the most important step of all. Don’t try to save time.
Pan Size Is Important
The original recipe I based this cheesecake on called for a 9-inch springform pan.
I didn’t like the results the first time I made it because it required MUCH longer to bake, the cake rose almost to the top of the pan and the topping spilled over the sides. While the cake came out OK, I was not pleased with the final results–the crust was very hard and the cake did not adhere to the crust, therefore, I began using a 10-inch springform pan and the cheesecake turns out perfectly each and every time.
Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake
- 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 8 tablespoons butter melted
- 3 packages 8 ounces each cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 can 15 ounces solid-pack pumpkin
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 5 large eggs lightly beaten
- 6 tablespoons butter softened
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- IMPORTANT--see post for cheesecake baking instructions!!!
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Boil a large pot of water.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Cut a circle of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan. Wrap the pan in a double layer of heavy-duty foil.
- Mix the crust ingredients and press them into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of the prepared pan.
- Beat the cream cheese pumpkin,cream, pie spice and sugars until just incorporated. Blend in the eggs on low speed.
- Pour on top of the crust. Place pan in roasting pan and add boiling water for waterbath (see post)
- Bake for 1 hour.
- In a small bowl, mix the softened butter and brown sugar well. Blend in the pecans.
- When the cake has baked 1 hour, carefully distribute the topping on the top of the cake. Don’t worry if you have bare spots; the topping will melt to cover the cake.
- Bake an additional 40 minutes. Shut off the oven and let the cake sit in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove cake from oven and cool 10-20 minutes on a rack. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the side of the pan.
- Cool completely then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.