For some odd reason every year I can never pin down the exact date of Thanksgiving. Is it the third week? Last week? Thursday, Friday? Rats.
Then I figured out an easier way. Thanksgiving is getting close when the molasses and pumpkin start getting sold out at the grocery store. Will I be making a big Thanksgiving dinner? Probably not. But at least I can do pumpkin pie. Or better yet, caramel pumpkin cheesecake.
Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake
1/2c toasted pecans, chopped
2Tbsp brown sugar
4 (8oz) cream cheese, softened (you can use 1/3 less fat, but NEVER use fat free)
1 1/2c sugar
1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree (don’t get pumpkin pie filling)
2Tbsp milk, half-and-half, or cream
caramel sauce, extra gingersnaps, and pecans for topping
For caramel sauce:
4Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1/2c milk or half-and-half
Make crust by crushing gingersnaps and pecans in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can place the gingersnaps and pecans in a large zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin. Stir in brown sugar and salt. Stir in melted butter and stir to coat all the crumbs. Press into a 10″ springform pan. I find this works best using a flat-bottomed cup or measuring cup working from the center toward the edges, pressing the crumbs up onto the sides of the springform. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin and spices, combining well. Add the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each egg before adding the next. Stir in the cream until just combined.
Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the filling. Smooth the top with a spatula (an angled frosting spatula works best, but any will do). Place cheesecake in the middle of the oven and bake at 350 for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until no longer soupy. It will likely still be somewhat jiggly (not liquid) in the middle, but will set as it cools.
Cool 30 minutes out of the oven, then refrigerate, covered for at least 4 hours till completely chilled, or overnight. Before serving, top with caramel sauce, gingersnaps, and pecans.
To make caramel sauce, place sugar in a clean saucepan over medium heat. Without stirring or with VERY minimal stirring, allow sugar to melt and bubble until it turns a medium amber color. Remove from heat and add butter, half-and-half, and salt. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until caramel melts into the butter and half-and-half. (If your caramel has balled up, you can place the pan over very low heat while you stir to help it melt into the sauce).