Cristina's Pumpkin Cheesecake

Cristina's Pumpkin Cheesecake

Serves 10 to 12

This is the perfect cheesecake for the holidays, and I always end up making two because this is the first dessert to go. When it’s baking, you can smell the aroma of the cinnamon and spices all over the house. It’s a beautiful dessert too, with its rich, creamy texture and deep golden color. Add a dollop of fresh whipped cream, if you like, and your favorite store-bought caramel sauce over and serve with spiced hot tea. It tastes like Christmas. Ingredients:

• 9 whole graham crackers
• 12 ginger snap cookies • ½ cup chopped pecans • 2 Tbsp. sugar • ½ tsp. ground ginger • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted Filling
• 3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into chunks
• 1 ¼ cups sugar • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon • ½ tsp. ground ginger • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg • ¼ tsp. ground cloves • ½ tsp. salt • 5 large eggs, at room temperature • 1 cup heavy cream • 1 (15-ounce) can plain pumpkin • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Put an oven rack in the lower-middle part of the oven. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To make the crust, in a food processor, combine the graham crackers, ginger snap cookies, pecans, sugar, ginger, and cinnamon. Process until evenly ground. Add the melted butter and process for 5 to 8 seconds. Turn the crumbs into the prepared springform pan, and spread the crumbs into an even layer using your hands and pressing gently. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes. When the crust is cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two 18-inch square pieces of foil, and set the springform pan in a roasting pan.
  3. To make the filling, in a food processor, process the cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, processing after each addition. Add the cream and pumpkin, and process until well blended. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Pour the filling into the crust, and spread evenly. Tap the pan on the counter 4 to 5 times to remove air bubbles.
  4. Place the cheesecake in the roasting pan, and place the roasting pan in the oven. Quickly fill the roasting pan with water halfway. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top is set. To test, insert a toothpick; if it comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, and place it on the counter to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. To release the cake from the springform pan, run a knife under warm water, and run the knife all around the cheesecake to loosen the sides. Release the sides of the springform, and gently lift it away from the cake. Slice and serve with fresh whipped cream.

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