Fall into the autumn baking season with this simple classic dessert.
Ingredients (makes approximately 24 cupcakes or 10 cupcakes and a 6-inch cheesecake)
For the crust:
- 12 whole graham crackers, crushed
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the filling:
- 2 packages of cream cheese, softened
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare your crust by crushing the graham crackers with a rolling pin and mixing in the melted butter and cinnamon. Toss well with a wooden spoon and gently press into a springform pan or paper cupcake liners.
To make your batter, whip the cream cheese with a hand mixer or a stand mixer until well combined. If you're doing this by hand, be sure to get all of the lumps. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated with no streaks remaining. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and granulated sugar. Continue mixing until the batter is visibly smooth. Reserve 1/3 cup of the batter in a plastic sandwich bag to create a contrasting swirl.
Fold in the pumpkin purée and brown sugar, then pour into the prepared crust or cupcake liners. To create a swirled pattern, cut the tip off the plastic bag and pipe the reserved pumpkin-free batter onto the orange batter. Feather it in gently with a skewer or the point of a steak knife. As it bakes, the batter won't spread much, so be creative.
To minimize cracking in a large cheesecake, put a pan of hot water on the lower rack of the oven to create a humid environment. You may still get cracks (like I did) when you unmold it. Bake a 6-inch cheesecake for 40 minutes, or cupcake-sized treats for 30 minutes. If you go larger than 6 inches in diameter, increase the baking time to ensure that it cooks all the way through. You want it to be solid, with just a touch of jiggle in the center.
Cool for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator to achieve a firm set before slicing.
- Add a nutty touch to the crust by mixing some finely chopped pecans in with the graham cracker crumbs.
- As written, this recipe produces a mellow, not-too-sweet pumpkin pie. You can turn up the volume by lacing the swirling batter with some extra spices like a touch of ginger or more cinnamon. What about an additional dulce de leche swirl?
- Though optional, this dessert is made infinitely better with a dollop of whipped cream.
The next time you're feeling a pumpkin craving, give this simple cheesecake recipe a try. You'll love this delicious seasonal favorite!
**The photos in this article are by Sarina Petrocelly.
Do you have a favorite cheesecake recipe or pumpkin dessert? Tell us about it in the comments!