With the weather turning colder and the leaves changing color, I wanted to make a traditional fall dessert. In Switzerland (and most of Europe), eating pumpkin as a dessert is rather rare and honestly, a bit odd. But thanks to my US friends, I decided to try my hand at a pumpkin dessert… and I’m so happy I took the plunge!
This pumpkin cheesecake was surprisingly delicious. It’s not too sweet and is spiced with just the right amount of cinnamon.
I made the crust using Speculoos cookies, which are a type of Belgian cookie spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and cardamom. Any spiced cookie or even graham crackers (add some extra spices if you get the urge!) would be delicious if Speculoos aren’t available. You can either buy the pumpkin puree if it is available to you (I found mine at a specialty grocery store), or make the puree yourself from fresh pumpkin.
We couldn’t resist eating a piece of the cheesecake after the first couple of pictures. And what we didn’t didn’t eat immediately tasted even better over the next couple of days. You may want to plan ahead for this recipe, and make it the day before you want to serve it to allow it to chill (and the flavours to deepen) in the refrigerator overnight.
I adapted the recipe from the French blog Lilie bakery. My version is below, preceded by my tips and tricks for making a perfect cheesecake every time. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!
How to get the pumpkin cheesecake perfect every time
1. Avoiding cracks
Don’t overbake the cheesecake! Bake the cheesecake until firm on the outer sides but still a bit jiggly in the middle.
Don’t cool down the cheesecake too fast; instead let the cheesecake cool for 1h in the turned off oven with the door cracked, then move to the counter and leave to cool some more.
2. Prevent the cheesecake from sticking to the sides of the springform pan.
Line the springform pan. To do so, undo the clasp, cover it with a sheet of baking paper (allow the sides of the paper to overhang), and close the clap. Don’t trim the paper – it helps you to remove the cake.
Another trick to avoid the cheesecake from sticking to the edge of the pan is to run a sharp knife around the edge of the cheesecake after it has cooled in the oven. This is the best time to do this as the cheesecake will start to set once it is out on the counter.
3. Chill the cheesecake for a few hours before serving.
The texture of the cheesecake will change after chilling. If you serve the cheesecake as soon as cooled down, it will have more of a flan-like texture, but after a couple hours of chilling, it will take on a more creamy, velvety texture. Allow at least 4h (ideally overnight) chilling.
4. Do not remove the tin until serving
The cheesecake will solidify properly in the pan an will be easier to remove after chilling for a couple of hours, or overnight.
5. Store uncovered
Perfect pumpkin cheesecake
For the crust:
- 170 g (1 3/4 cup) ground crackers graham crackers or ginger cookies
- 65 g (1/2 stick + 2 tsp) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the cheesecake filling
- 300 g (1 1/3 cup) cream cheese (Philadelphia), room temperature
- 450 g (16 oz) canned pureed pumpkin
- 3 whole eggs
- 60 g (1/4 cup) creme fraiche (or sour cream)
- 240 g (1 1/4 cup) sugar
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 30 g (1/4 cup) flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the chantilly cream (whipped cream):
- 20 cl 3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp whole or whipping cream
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 170° (340 F) and line a 20cm (7.5 inch) springform pan with parchment paper.
For the crust:
Crush the graham crackers or ginger cookies in a food processor (or in a bag using a rolling pin) until they form fine crumbs, then mix with the butter and cinnamon. Press the mix down flat into the springform pan and bake for 10min or until the crust is fragrant and just starting to brown around the edges. Let the crust cool on a cooling rack while you prepare the filling.
For the cheesecake filling:
Whip the cream cheese at a low speed using your electric mixer (paddle attachment), then add the pureed pumpkin, eggs, creme fraiche (or sour cream), sugar and cinnamon and mix until combined. Finally, add the flour and vanilla extract and mix until homogenous.
Pour the pumpkin mix onto the base and bake for about 1h05 or until the cheesecake is firm on the outer 3cm (1 inch) but still a bit jiggly in the middle.
Cool the cheesecake in the oven: Turn off the oven and crack the door open. Let the cheesecake cool slowly for one hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and transfer it to a cooling rack. Run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it's not sticking to the sides of the pan (which can cause cracks as it cools). Do not remove the cheesecake from the pan at this point - the pan will only be removed before serving. Let the cheesecake cool completely on the rack. Transfer to the fridge and chill the cheesecake, uncovered, for at least four hours or up to three days in the refrigerator.
For the chantilly cream:
Prepare the chantilly cream by whipping the cream and icing sugar in an electric mixer using the whisk attachement until the cream is firm and holds its shape when the whisk is removed. Pipe the chantilly cream onto the cheesecake.
Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator 30min before serving. Enjoy!