Editor’s note: This recipe is from Rebecca Firth’s new book, The Cake Book: Beautiful Sweet Treats for Every Craving (Page Street Publishing, 2021; $22.99). We love the combination of dulce de leche and pumpkin, and this cheesecake will elicit raves any time of the year, but especially during the season of all-things-pumpkin. Here’s Rebecca’s take on this cake:
Every year I make a pumpkin cheesecake with caramel for our Thanksgiving table. This is inspired by one of my favorites from DisplacedHousewife.com and you are going to LOVE it! It can be made days ahead of time, which is probably what makes it one of my favorite holiday desserts (aside from it tasting delicious!). At a minimum, the cheesecake needs 12 hours in the fridge to set and chill. The three best tips for success with this cheesecake: try to get rid of excess moisture in the pumpkin puree; have EVERYTHING at room temperature; mix everything low and slow; and avoid sudden temperature changes. All of this should yield a beautiful, crack-free cheesecake!
Makes 10 to 12 servings
- 15 ounces (1 ¾ cups [425 g]) 100% pure pureed pumpkin (not pie filling)
- 12 whole graham crackers (6 oz[180 g])
- 3 tablespoons (42 g) light brown sugar, packed
- 5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 14 ounces (398 g) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1½ cups (330 g) light brown sugar, packed
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) sea salt
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 8 ounces (240 g) sour cream, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) vanilla paste or real vanilla extract
Dulce de Leche
- 1 cup (240 g) whole milk
- 1 cup (240 g) heavy whipping cream
- 2/3 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 2 teaspoons (8 g) vanilla paste or real vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Spread the pumpkin puree on a couple of layers of paper or cloth towels to release any excess moisture. You may need to replace the towels several times if the pumpkin is quite moist. Let sit out and dry until ready to add to the cheesecake.
For the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F (177˚C). Grease a 9-inch (23-cm) nonstick springform pan and line with parchment paper.
- Put the graham crackers and brown sugar in a food processor or high-speed blender and pulse until the mixture becomes a very fine crumb. Drizzle the butter on top and pulse until just mixed and it resembles wet sand. Firmly and evenly press the mixture into the bottom of the springform. Place the crust in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until it starts to turn a little golden and is bronzed around the edges. Set the crust aside to cool completely.
For the Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Increase the oven temperature to 400˚F (200˚C) and place a heat-safe skillet or Dutch oven on the bottom rack. Bring 4 cups (1 L) of water to a boil and set aside while you prepare the cheesecake.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and salt on low for about 2 minutes or until smooth and lump free. Frequently use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
- In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and then slowly stream them into the bowl with the mixer on low. Continue with the mixer on low for 2 minutes or until combined. Add in the pumpkin, sour cream, orange juice and vanilla, making sure each addition is well blended before adding in the next; mix on low for another 2 minutes, or until well blended. Use the back of your spatula to smash down any rogue chunks of cream cheese. Press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the cooled crust, smoothing the top with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
- Place the cheesecake in the center of the oven and pour the hot water into the skillet on the bottom rack and quickly shut the oven door. Bake the cheesecake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven to 250˚F (121˚C) and bake for an additional 45 minutes. When done, the center will jiggle when gently shaken and the edges will be set. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit in it for 30 minutes, with the door open. After 30 minutes, take the cheesecake out of the oven. Let it sit at room temperature for about 1 hour. When cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap (still in the springform pan) and set in the fridge to chill overnight.
For the Dulce de Leche
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over high heat, whisk together the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pod and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and whisk in the baking soda. Whenever you walk by the pot, give it a stir and adjust the temperature to keep it from boiling; you just want some bubbles around the edges of the pan. Usually between the 30- to 45-minute mark, the color starts to deepen, and the mixture begins to thicken a bit. When this happens, it’s going to be more prone to a heavy boil (which you don’t want), so stick near it, adjusting the temperature as necessary and stirring more frequently. It should be done at around 1½ to 2 hours. You want the dulce to have reduced and thickened as well as become bronzed with a deep caramel color. Strain the dulce into a heat-safe, lidded container and stash in the fridge until ready to use. It will thicken more as it cools. Let it come closer to room temperature before using.
- Gently run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake, remove the cheesecake from the pan and set on a cake plate. Pour the dulce over the top of the cheesecake and serve.
Reprinted with permission from The Cake Book by Rebecca Firth, Page Street Publishing, Co. 2021.
Photo credit: Rebecca Firth