Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Brown Sugar Bourbon Cream

I consider pumpkin pie as the “Grand Hoo-Ha” of Thanksgiving Day.  Every year I am looking for “the” recipe.  Something that retains the pumpkin flavor with a creative twist, perhaps.  So when I saw this recipe in my Baking Illustrated, I went for it.  I’m not usually one who goes for liqueur type flavors-sometimes I find them overpowering.  But I thought I would be a little adventurous with this one-and the best part of it?  If I didn’t like the Brown Sugar and Bourbon Cream….I just didn’t have to use it, and I would still have an amazing pumpkin cheesecake to eat.

I made this as a test run-through a couple of weekends ago to see if it would be a front runner for Thanksgiving Day. My sister, Sam, brought her new puppy, Jackson, over to play with Scout one afternoon and offered to taste test the cheesecake for me.  She took one bite, and all I heard was “Oh my gosh.  Oh my gosh.  Shanon, I am SO making this for Thanksgiving.  Oh my gosh.”

So there we were, in the kitchen, feasting on Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Brown Sugar and Bourbon Cream.  We forgot about making dinner.  It was all about this cheesecake.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Brown Sugar Bourbon Cream

Servings: 12 to 16


For the crust:

9 whole graham crackers, broken into large pieces

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

1 and 1/3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 and 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) of cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup heavy cream

For the cream:

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons bourbon


1. For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Place the crackers, sugar, and spices in a food processor and process until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses.

4. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl, drizzle the melted butter over them, and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened.

5. Turn the crumbs into the prepared springform pan and spread the crumbs into an even layer.

6. Bake until fragrant and browned around the edges, about 15 minutes.

7.  Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes.  When cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two 18-inch square pieces of heavy-duty foil; set the springform pan in a roasting pan.

8. For the filling: Bring about 4 quarts water to a simmer in a stockpot.

9. While the crust is cooling, whisk the sugar, spices, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

10. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels.

11. Spread the pumpkin on the towels and cover with a second triple layer of towels.

12. Press firmly until the towels are saturated.

13. Peel back the top layer of towels and discard.

14.  Grasp the bottom towels and fold the pumpkin in half; peel back the towels.

15. Repeat and flip the pumpkin onto the baking sheet; discard the towels.

16. Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer set on medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute.

17. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well and with a rubber spatula.

18.  Add about a third of the sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl and add the remaining sugar in two additions, scraping the bowl after each addition.

19. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl.  Add 3 of the eggs and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl.

20. Add the remaining two eggs and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl.

21. Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds.

22.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give a final stir by hand.

23.  Pour the filling into the springform pan and smooth the surface; set the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

24.  Bake until the center of the cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken and the center of the cake reads 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 and 1/2 hours.

25.  Set the roasting pan on a wire rack and cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes.

26.  Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and set on a wire rack; run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake and cool until barely warm, about 3 hours.

27.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

28. For the cream: In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, brown sugar, and salt until combined.

29. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve the cheesecake, at least 4 hours or up to 24, stirring once or twice during chilling to ensure that the sugar dissolves.

30.  When ready to serve the cheesecake, add the bourbon and beat the mixture at medium speed until small bubbles form around the edges, about 40 seconds; increase the speed to high and continue to beat until fluffy and doubled in volume, about 1 minute longer.

31.  Spoon the cream onto individual slices of cheesecake.

Source: Baking Illustrated.

November 21, 2010 - 8:25 am

Lauren at KeepItSweet - wow this does sound great!

November 23, 2011 - 5:03 pm

Erik - Looks like a winner, one im going to try out soon..