Gourmet's Pumpkin Cheesecake-Famous Fridays

Yes, it's that day again, thank goodness! Another Friday, and the last one before Thanksgiving. The countdown has really begun. If you're hosting, do you have your menu all planned out? I'm actually not hosting this year, but am in charge of bringing desserts and this Famous Fridays offering may just fit the bill.

Today I celebrate the now-defunct and much-missed, Gourmet Magazine, which ran for 68 years from 1941-2009. I eagerly awaited its arrival each month, and so many of my favorite recipes have come from its pages...like this amazing Pumpkin Cheesecake!

Gourmet's Pumpkin Cheesecake

The thing I loved about Gourmet was that while some of the recipes and trends it featured were a little bit out there and kind of complicated for a home cook with three little kids, it also featured fun, interesting but still kinda normal recipes that regular old people (I admit it, I'm sort of a boring eater) could experiment with and expand their culinary skills and knowledge. Every December, I would go through all the issues from the year and clip out any recipe that I thought I might make before getting rid of the old issues. Of course, there were quite a few and that's why this cheesecake recipe has been sitting around since 1990!

Although cheesecake isn't traditional for Thanksgiving, it's a great and interesting option to serve; great, because you can make it up to 2 days ahead and interesting, because it's light, creamy and full of pumpkin flavor, in a unique, very turkey-day way. Plus it's easy to put together and serves a lot of people, so if you're looking for something a little different this year...

You start out be making a wonderfully flavored and textured pecan graham cracker crumb crust--

Then you make the smooth creamy filling which is full of good things like pumpkin puree, cream cheese and spices and pour it over the crust--

Next you bake it (doesn't even need a water bath) and once it comes out of the oven you slather it with a divine sour cream/sugar mixture and return it to the oven to bake just for a few more minutes so that the topping is barely set--

What you wind up with is a gorgeous layered cheesecake that will definitely get people talking!

This cheesecake is impressive, accessible and a little bit different--three qualities that for me, embody what was Gourmet Magazine.

Gourmet's Pumpkin Cheesecake-Famous Fridays

Serves 12-14
Prep Time:  45 minutes active (but add in time for crust to chill); Bake Time:  About 1 hour;  Total Time:  About 24 hours for chilling


For the crust

  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (you can buy them ready made or grind up about 5 graham crackers in the food processor)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the filling

  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (I didn't use)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I didn't use)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I didn't use)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened

For the topping

  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (I didn't use)

The Recipe

1.  To make the crust:  Take a 9 inch springform pan and invert the removable bottom and lock into place. This helps to create a flat bottom which makes it easier to remove the cake from the pan. Then butter the pan well.

2.  Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, sugars and butter until well combined and press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan and 1/2 inch up the sides.

3.  Chill crust for an hour.

4.  To make the filling:  Preheat the oven to 350ºF and make sure rack is in middle of oven.

5.  Whisk pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla and bourbon (if using) together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

6.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, stir together sugar, cornstarch, spices and salt. Add cream cheese and beat at high speed until creamy and smooth, for about 3 minutes, scraping down sides if necessary.  Lower speed to medium and add pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth.

7.  Pour the filling into the chilled crust, smoothing the top and then put the pan into a large pan to catch any drips. Bake until the center is just barely set, 50-60 minutes. Leave oven on and transfer to a rack and cool 5 minutes.

8.  Meanwhile, stir together sour cream and sugar (and bourbon is using) in a small bowl. After cheesecake has cooled 5 minutes, spread on top of the cake and bake it for another 5 minutes.

9.  Cool cheesecake completely in pan on a rack for about 3 hours.  Then chill, covered for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. Remove the side of the pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

10.  Can be made up to two days ahead of time kept covered in the refrigerator.


Note:  Recipe tweaked a little by me from November 1990 edition of Gourmet Magazine.






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