Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

The holidays are a time of indulgence. I love the seasonal taste and aroma of pumpkin and when paired with chocolate, it adds to the luxury.  Combine them into cheesecake and, well, mission accomplished!

This recipe cuts down on the fuss factor by using canned pumpkin and a conventional cake pan. Whereas other recipes call for springform pans which can leak into the water bath during the bake, a nonstick 9-inch cake pan eliminates that worry and guarantees a beautiful outcome for your next family gathering. (I use one made by Nordic Ware.)

4 tablespoons (2 oz / 55 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
5 ounces (140 g) chocolate wafers (such as Nabisco famous chocolate wafers)
1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 oz / 20 g) granulated sugar

Butter the bottom of a 9 x 3-inch non-stick cake pan. Line with a round of parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of a food processor, using the metal “S” blade add the wafers and sugar and pulse until the wafers become crumbs. Pour the melted butter over the wafer crumbs and pulse until combined (texture of wet sand). Tip the crumbs out into the prepared pan. Shake the pan to distribute the crumbs and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan using your fingers or a flat-bottom measuring cup or ramekin.

Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F.

2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 oz/ 230 g) granulated sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1-15 oz can pure pumpkin purée

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment slowly beat cream cheese until smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. The goal is NOT to create a lot of air while beating. Continue mixing while slowly adding the sugar and salt.

Add eggs one at a time and mix well between each addition, again scraping down bowl as needed.  Add cinnamon, ginger, cloves (if adding) and pumpkin purée. For a completely smooth filling, pour the filling through a sieve prior to filling the prepared pan. I also lift the pan about an inch off the counter and drop it a few times allowing any air bubbles to come to the surface.

Fill a larger pan with about an inch of hot water and place cheesecake pan in the water bath.

Bake 1 ½ to 2 hours or until almost set. You can test it by giggling the pan. It’s done when only the middle wobbles slightly. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool.

Remove from the water bath and run a knife around the inside edge of pan to loosen, taking care not to scratch the nonstick coating.  Allow to cool at room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.

To unmold the cheesecake, carefully run a knife around the perimeter again and then gently heat the bottom of the pan to loosen. Tip the cake over on an 8-inch cardboard round  or the disk from a removable bottom tart pan. Remove the parchment paper and then then tip it back over onto a cake plate. Pour chocolate ganache* over top of cake and spread gently to an even layer allowing it to drip down the sides. Cut cheesecake with a hot dry knife, rinsing and drying knife between each slice.

* Chocolate Ganache
In a small bowl, melt 3 oz. chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate and 5 tablespoons unsalted butter. Add 1 tablespoon. light corn syrup and whisk until smooth.

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