Friday, December 3, 2010

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe came to me by a rather convoluted route. Someone on Serious Eats posted a comment about it, so I went to Smitten Kitchen to find it. But the original recipe came from Gourmet Magazine.

I have no idea how close this is to the original, but this is how I made it for Thanksgiving.

I don't normally make untested recipes for holidays, unless I've got a backup. Usually I'll try a recipe at least once before the big event, just to make sure it works.

This time, it was a first run. If it failed completely, I had pumpkin ice cream in the freezer, and some maple whipped cream ready to go, to add a little pizazz to the ice cream.

That would have been fine, but not as impressive as a cheesecake.

Luckily, it worked out.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2003 via Smitten Kitchen
Serves 12 to 14

For the crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used home made graham crackers)
1/2 cup pecans (1 3/4 ounce), finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese at room temperature

For the topping:
2 cups sour cream (20 ounces by weight)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon
Garnish: pecan halves

To make the crust:
Butter a 9-inch springform pan and wrap the outside in aluminum foil to contain leaks.

Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Chill for at least 1 hour.

To make the filling and bake the cheesecake:

Put oven rack in middle position and -preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl whisk the pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and bourbon until well combined.

In a large bowl, stir the granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt together. Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth at medium speed.

Pour filling into the crust and smooth the top. Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. (Note: I baked mine for 70 minutes, and it was still more jiggly than I thought it should be. Since there was more baking to come, I took it out after 70, but it could have gone another 10 minutes. This might be a recipe flaw, or more likely because I'm at high altitude. Keep it in mind when you're making it, though.)

Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. Leave the oven on - the cheesecake is going back.

To make the topping: 
In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, sugar, and bourbon together until well combined. Spread this mixture over the top of the cheesecake. Bake for an 5 additional minutes. (Note: I thought it needed more baking, so I let it go another 5 minutes. It would have been better to bake longer the first time, but it worked out.)

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours. (Note: at this point, the cheesecake was still a little wobbly, and I was concerned, but it was too late.)

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

Note: The cheesecake was no longer jiggly after cooling, but it was still a little softer than most cheesecakes, and it sunk a bit in the center. The topping covered that flaw, before serving, but after cutting you could see that the topping was thicker in the center.

Still a really good cheesecake, but it could have cooked another 10 minutes, possibly more, for the first bake.
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