Time is nigh for setting the table and facing that big ole mess we call family…and all that that entails. This seems to be the one holiday when everyone descends on the same day and comes with baggage instead of picnic baskets. But let’s be real – we are indeed so lucky that we can in fact gather, break bread and give thanks. I am hoping the biggest debate your gang faces on Thursday is sweet potato or pumpkin. (I’m looking at you Val – duh, pumpkin!) And my picnic basket this year is loaded with a secret weapon – a dessert that you can make a day or two ahead. Check that box. Move on. Worry about the Beaujolais Nouveau and who will do the dishes. Dessert is mission-accomplished. This pumpkin ginger cheesecake falls smack in the middle of the “consider it done” category. That of course assumes you can keep it safeguarded til after dinner on Thursday. It’s tempting.
Thanksgiving dinner often gets a bad rap for being a brown meal. But I love the vibrant colors of fall squashes, pumpkins and gourds. Use them for table settings, roast them for a side or salad, make a quick bread, or whip them up in a dessert.
Cheesecakes are pretty flawless desserts to prepare even if you haven’t made them before, as long as you follow a few simple tips. They are super sturdy, so you don’t need a deft hand. I would argue quite the opposite. You really don’t want to be dainty with the batter – don’t incorporate lots of air, do bang the pan, get aggressive. Be bold. If you follow my instructions and read the accompanying notes, you will be a star performer – dare I say, a pastry chef. Start with your ingredients at room temperature, use a good quality springform, and use a food processor, not a mixer. A processor will combine the ingredients without incorporating air which will cause the cheesecake to puff and fall, leaving a crater in the center. Allow all the time needed for cooling to room temperature and then refrigerating. It takes time, but not active time. And know that if all else fails – craters or cracks – you will be slathering a cream topping on and that can cover a multitude of mistakes. Yes, indeed. You are definitely a pastry chef.
Tennessee Whiskey Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: Serves 12 1x
This pumpkin ginger cheesecake is surprisingly light, yet creamy. The nutty crust has that I want more-ish quality! And, a dose of Gentleman Jack Daniels keeps the party rolling.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
- 24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 5 ounces Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey
- 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
Make the Crust:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine flour, brown sugar, pecans, and melted butter and mix until crumbs adhere. Press into a 9 or 10″ sturdy nonstick springform pan and bake for 10 – 12 minutes. Remove and cool. Wrap pan in heavy duty foil. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
Make the Filling:
In food processor, puree pumpkin until smooth. Add cream cheese and puree until smooth. Add Gentleman Jack, sugar, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg and pulse until mixed. Add eggs and pulse 2 – 3 times only until just combined. Do not overprocess.
Pour filling into cooled crust and bang pan on the counter to eliminate extra air. Place in a roasting pan and fill with hot water, halfway up the side of the springform. Bake for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours or until set. It may still be a bit wobbly in the center, but it will firm up as it cools.
Turn oven off and leave the cheesecake in the water bath in the oven for 30 minutes more. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, and carefully remove the springform from the water. Remove foil and cool on wire rack until room temperature. Refrigerate until fully chilled.
Make the Topping:
Combine sour cream, Gentleman Jack, and powdered sugar and spread on top of cheesecake. Refrigerate until set.
Gently run a knife or thin metal spatula around inside edge of pan. When cheesecake has released, open outer pan ring and remove.
Feel free to substitute a dark Rum or Bourbon if you prefer.
Tips to cheesecake success:
- Room temperature ingredients
- A sturdy springform pan
- Combine the filling without beaters or a whisk. I use a food processor
- Wrap the springform pan in foil and bake in a roasting pan filled with hot water half-way up the cheesecake pan
- Cool slowly and refrigerate well before serving
- More tips on how to remove the pesky springform bottom below in comments
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 90 min (plus chilling time)
- Category: Desserts
- Cuisine: American
Happy Thanksgiving and Gobble Gobble!
This post contains affiliate links. For more of my must-have favorites, including the mashed potato essential – a potato ricer – and the best book ever on Thanksgiving, visit my shop.
© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.
looks gorgeous- I still have some pumpkins left ; will definitely try this recipe.
Thanks Miriam! Did you recognize that last photo? Those are actually your pumpkins, picked from your field. Fall in Slovenia is gorgeous!! Leave a comment and let us know what kind of alcohol you chose. Hope all is well at Novak Lodge!
Katy- I am totally making this. Usually make a pumpkin cheese cake but this will be a nice twist. One of my biggest issues when I make them is removing the bottom of the cheese cake off the pan. Any tips?
Maria, That is a great question. Once you remove the outer ring, most people want to transfer it off the base as well. Personally, I don’t want people cutting on my good quality springform base, never mind that is an eyesore. Choose a serving platter that has no or low sides, not a steep lip. Then use either a thin long icing spatula like this or a long thin straight edged carving knife (something that looks like this). Carefully insert the knife or spatula straight in until you hit the center point, separating the crust from the base. There is enough butter in the crust to make this a bit easier, especially if the cake has been out of the fridge to add topping and remove outer ring. Holding the spatula steady in your right hand, slowly spin the springform base clockwise with your left hand (or reverse the process if left handed). If you are using a knife and turning clockwise, face the blade toward the right. Once you have completed the full turn, nudge it onto your platter.
Thanks Katy! Will let you know how it goes. Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Thanksgiving Cheer! Hope your feast is fantastic! Gonna need a mighty big cheesecake for 43!!
This looks excellent. I’m drooling. (And I don’t usually drool.) Will have to try. Thanks, Katy & happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks Lisa. Hope you get some drool-worthy feasting on Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving!
Would the cheesecake be just as good without the Jack? …. for the sober crowd?
It would be just as delicious! If you take out 5 ounces of Jack in the filling, add 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1 – 2 teaspoons almond extract, if your crowd does extracts. The extra is optional for texture so it’s not critical, but it will add flavor.
And for the topping, take out the Jack AND the powdered sugar, and sub with 2 Tablespoons maple syrup. Taste the topping to make sure it’s sweet enough for you, keeping in mind it is there to provide an acid balance to pumpkin’s sweetness so it will still be tart. You just don’t want it “make a face” tart. Enjoy!