Monday, November 22, 2021

Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Brown Butter Pecan Crust

Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Brown Butter Pecan Crust
Adapted from: Butternut Bakery

Brown Butter Pecan Crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs 
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup crushed pecans (could use walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Melt and heat until browned. First you will see reddish brown specks form in the butter. Keep your eye on it as it browns quickly after that. Remove from heat and allow to cool. If you see burnt black specks, pour the butter into a glass cup and they will sink to the bottom. Then scoop out the butter from the top to use, you'll need about 6 tablespoons of butter. 

Use food processor to crush pecans until you have about 3/4 cup nuts. Then combine the graham cracker crumbs, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. When the brown butter has cooled (it can be warm but not hot), pour into the bowl and stir to coat.

Pour the crumbs into the springform pan and use the bottom of a glass measuring cup to press it into the bottom and sides of the pan.

Bake for 10 minutes on the middle rack, then allow to cool while you make the pumpkin cheesecake batter.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
(4) 8 oz bricks full fat Philadelphia cream cheese, room temp
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
2 tbsp cornstarch (I used 3 tablespoons flour)
1/4 tsp salt
I used 3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice or you could use: 
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 cup full fat sour cream
4 large eggs, room temp
15 oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

Arrange the two racks inside the oven so that one is at the very bottom and one is in the middle. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and coat the inside of a 9″ springform pan with nonstick spray or grease with butter.

Cover the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper and set aside. The cheesecake shrinks so this will help prevent cracks as it cools and separates from the pan.

In a bowl using a hand or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and sugar and mix on low speed until smooth and combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix again on low speed to catch any bits at the bottom.

Next, use electric kettle or fill a medium-sized pot with about 4 cups of water and place it over high heat. It should reach a boil by the time the batter is done. Also place a large roast pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Back to the cheesecake – add the vanilla, cornstarch/flour, salt, and spices and mix on low speed until combined.

Scrape down the bowl and mix in the sour cream, again on low speed.

Mix in the eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Scrape down the bowl after the first two eggs, and again after the last two eggs.

Last, mix in the entire can of pumpkin puree on low speed. When it appears to be fully mixed in, remove the bowl from the mixer and mix the batter by hand.

Scrape down the sides and bottom to ensure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the crust and spread it smooth. It should completely cover the crust.

Now with the boiling water, open the oven door and pull out the bottom rack just enough for you to access the roast pan. Carefully pour the water into the roast pan and push the rack pack in. Quickly place the cheesecake on the middle rack, directly above the roast pan, and close the oven door. This will trap the steam and create a humid baking environment for the cheesecake – preventing it from drying out and cracking.

Bake for 70-85 minutes. It should look very puffed on the outside with a slightly jiggly center. The center should be firmer/sturdier than jello. I baked it about 85 minutes. 

When it’s done, turn the oven off and crack open the oven door. Let the cheesecake remain inside the oven for 30 minutes to an 1 hour, until the heat inside the oven is gradually gone.

Remove from oven and allow cheesecake to cool at room temperature for an hour. Then transfer to the refrigerator and let it chill uncovered for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Cover with plastic wrap after its cooled overnight. 

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