Last Thanksgiving I made two pumpkin cheesecakes, one for Nick’s family and one for my own. Unfortunately for my family, I attempted to make a REALLY healthy one for them…and my mom and myself were the only ones who liked it. Now that I am thinking about it, maybe she was just being nice. I didn’t think it was bad, but I wouldn’t give you the recipe. I basically used fat-free everything and stevia instead of sugar. Usually, I can’t tell the difference, but this thing tasted sugar free as can be. Then, when I celebrated at Nick’s family’s house, I decided I had to scrap that entire recipe in the hopes of saving my reputation as a good cook. That’s when I called upon my kitchen guru, Smitten Kitchen. She makes downright fantastic dishes. She has never steered me wrong. So I found this bourbon pumpkin cheesecake recipe, and it was more than a hit. I could eat half of this thing. This year I decided to make it again, but with the attempt to make it a tad bit healthier. I’m not going overboard again…don’t get me wrong. I just think that using just a few different ingredients can cut out tons of fat and calories, leaving room for more side dishes and desserts. Additionally, I changed some bits of the recipe out of cost effectiveness and sheer laziness. Below I have copied her step by step instructions, with my handy edits marked. This was you can make it however you want! Seriously, I highly suggest you make it, because people will be raving about this thing ’til next Thanksgiving.
Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (I smashed 12 graham crackers in a sandwich bag)
1/2 cup pecans (1 3/4 ounce), finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs (I used the egg-white equivalent, it cuts a bunch of fat. Also, I don’t like cracking eggs…they freak me out. Weird right? By the way, I always use egg whites instead of eggs. I think in general it makes food taste lighter.)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream (I omitted this because I did not feel like buying heavy cream just to use two tablespoons of it.)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch (I omitted this because…I forgot about it.)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (In lieu of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger I used pumpkin pie spice. Which includes all three. I didn’t want to buy 3 different spices when I could much more cheaply buy one. I used 2 1/2 tbsp.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature (I used the 1/3 of the fat cream cheese. Going fat free makes it tasteless, but using reduced fat saves a lot of fat and calories, and is barely noticeable with everything else mixed in.)
2 cups sour cream (20 ounces) ( Again, I used reduced fat.)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional) (I used a few extra tablespoons. I felt last year that there was so little bourbon in the recipe that you could barely tell that I had added some. I also used an extra dash of vanilla.)
Garnish: pecan halves
Make crust: Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter pan. (Or spray with non-fat cooking spray)
Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust, 1 hour. (I only chilled it as long as it took me to prepare the cheesecake filling, so probably about 25 minutes. I’m impatient.)
Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl until combined.
Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, (or pumpkin pie spice)and salt in large bowl.
Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. (Can I just say that electric mixers are SO annoying. I feel like the lowest setting is still fast enough to send bits of cream cheese flying all over your kitchen. Proceed with caution.) Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.
Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks).(Using an extra pan is a really important step! You don’t want your oven to get gross!) Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. (50 minuted was perfect!) Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)
Make topping: Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 additional minutes.
Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.
Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.
Do ahead: Baked cheesecake can be chilled, covered, up to 2 days. (That’s right you guys…this baby is sitting in my fridge waiting for me to dig in. I’ve got to have self control ’til Thanksgiving!!)
I also garnished it with pecan halves, as shown in the original photo. The bi-layer effect is really snazzy! You are sure to get people talking with this one! I hope you guys enjoy it! If you make it let me know what you think. I wish you all the best and brightest Thanksgivings!
Check in Thanksgiving day to see all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals!! I will have some exclusive coupon codes on the blog, just for you!