pumpkin caramel cheesecake with gingersnap crust

This cheesecake recipe is courtesy of Ed and Paula Baker - two dear family friends that came to Thanksgiving dinner many years in a row while I was growing up. This recipe from them is based on the Bon Appetit recipe from 1993. It is the perfect creamy ending to a rich holiday meal. It is a nice alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie or plain white cheesecake. The homemade caramel sauce really makes it extra delicious with just a touch of salt to balance the flavor. 

Cheesecake:

  • Gingersnap cookies (1 8-ounce package; approximately 2 cups ground)

  • Brown sugar (1/3 cup)

  • Butter (1/4 cup, melted)

  • Cream cheese (4 8-ounce packages, at room temperature)

  • White sugar (1 and 2/3 cups)

  • Canned pumpkin (1 cup)

  • Whipping cream (9 tablespoons total)

  • Ground cinnamon (2 teaspoons)

  • Ground all-spice (2 teaspoons)

  • Eggs (4 whole)

Caramel Sauce: 

  • White sugar (1 cup)

  • Whipping cream (1/2 cup)

  • Butter (2 tablespoons)

  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a Cuisinart, combine the gingersnap cookies, brown sugar, and melted butter until evenly combined.

  3. Transfer the cookie mixture into a non-stick 9-inch springform pan. Press the crust into the bottom evenly, and then halfway up the sides. Set aside.

  4. In a large stand mixer, mix the cream cheese and sugar until evenly combined and creamy, about two minutes.

  5. Set aside 2/3 cup of the cream cheese and sugar mix in a small cup. Add 5 tablespoons of whipping cream and whisk with a fork until very smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use for topping. 

  6. Add the canned pumpkin, 4 tablespoons of whipping cream, ground cinnamon and all-spice to the stand mixer. Combine until very smooth.

  7. Add one egg at a time, combining on low between each addition.

  8. Transfer the mixture to the springform pan using a spatula. 

  9. Place the springform pan on a flat baking sheet. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the center barely jiggles. 

  10. Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Allow to cool and then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

  11. You can prepare the caramel sauce while the cheesecake is cooling. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of white sugar with 1/4 cup of water over medium heat. Stir the sugar frequently while cooking.

  12. While the sugar is cooking, heat in a small bowl (in the microwave) the 1/2 cup of whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of butter.

  13. Cook the sugar for 10 to 12 minutes, or until it turns amber in color.

  14. Swirl the cream and butter mixture into the cooked sugar, stirring vigorously. The caramel will become smooth and lighter in color. Set aside in a bowl or Tupperware and refrigerate until ready to use.

  15. The day you plan to serve the cheesecake, remove it from the refrigerator approximately 2 hours ahead. Using a spatula, spread the 2/3 cup of cream cheese and cream mixture over the top. 

  16. Warm up the caramel in the microwave and using a spoon, drizzle the caramel in a pattern on top of the cream mixture.

  17. Return the decorated cheesecake to the refrigerator for one hour to firm the topping before serving.