Our new favorite Thanksgiving Dessert is Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese bottom, that’s topped with sweetened sour cream and nutmeg. We like to serve it with a little caramel sauce and toasted pecans on the side.
12 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
2 ½ cups ginger snap crumbs
4 – 8 oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
2 ¾ cups of sugar plus 3 tablespoons, divided
1 ¼ cups sour cream, divided
6 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg, plus more for topping
For serving (optional):
Preheat the oven to 325˚F.
To make the gingersnap crumbs, grind ginger snap cookies in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Measure out 2 ½ cups and add to a large bowl. Brush a 9-inch springform pan with a small amount of butter. Line the springform bottom with a 9” parchment circle. Lightly brush the parchment with a little more butter.
Stir the remaining butter in the bowl with the crumbs. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and a pinch of salt and combine well. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Use a flat bottom measuring cup to packing it tightly and evenly in the bottom and sides. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, remove and cool completely on a rack. Wrap the outside of the springform pan with three layers of foil up the sides to form a water tight seal around the pan and place in a large roasting pan. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add 2 ½ cups of sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in ¼ cup sour cream, the eggs, and salt until well combined. Remove three cups of the mixture to another bowl. Add the vanilla bean paste and whisk until well combined. Carefully pour the vanilla mixture over the cooled crust.
To the remaining cream cheese mixture left in the mixer bowl, add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and beat until just combined. Carefully spoon over the vanilla layer. Smooth the top.
Gently place in the oven and very carefully add the boiling water into just the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Be careful to not splash any water into the cheesecake batter. Bake until the outside of the cheesecake is set but the center is still loose, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven heat and crack open the door for 2-3 minutes to vent out some heat. Close the door and leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the heat off, for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from the oven. Remove the foil from the outside of the springform pan and cool on a rack for about 30 minutes.
Set the oven rack on the lowest point in the bottom of the oven and heat the oven on the broiler setting to high. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of sour cream, 3 tablespoons sugar, and a pinch of nutmeg. Carefully spread in a thin layer over the top center of the cheesecake leaving a 1-1 ½” ring of the pumpkin cheese cake on the outside. Place on the lowest rack and cook until the topping is just set. About 6 -10 minutes. Watch carefully so the cheesecake doesn’t get too brown or start to burn. Remove and sprinkle with more nutmeg. Cool completely.
Run a very thin knife around the edges inside the springform pan, cover, and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Set the cheesecake out about 30 minutes before serving. Unlock and remove the springform ring. Slice with a warm knife and serve with toasted pecans and caramel sauce on the side.