(makes 12 slices)
2 C of gingersnap crumbs, finely ground in a food processor
6 T butter, melted
1/4 C sugar
32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (very important)
1 C sugar
Zest of half an orange
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 1/2 t ginger
1 1/2 t allspice
1 1/2 T cornstarch
1 – 15 ounce can of pumpkin
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t orange extract
4 eggs, room temperature (very important)
Cooking at a lower temperature and allowing the full hour of rest in the oven makes a gorgeous cake that is free of cracks. Must be prepared at least a day ahead.
For cranberry compote:
2 C fresh cranberries
1/2 C orange juice
1/4 C sugar
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t orange extract
Zest of half an orange
Combine gingersnap crumbs, butter and sugar. Press crumb mix into the bottom of a 10” springform pan that has been generously sprayed with non-stick baking spray. (A 1/2 C measure works well for pressing the crust.) Make sure sides are well sprayed too. Place springform pan on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place crust into a preheated 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. Rotate baking sheet and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove and cool. Leave oven on.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add cream cheese and blend until smooth using the paddle attachment. Add sugar and zest. Blend in. Add cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cornstarch. Blend in. Occasionally, remove paddle attachment and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the bowl for a well blended batter. Add pumpkin and blend. Add vanilla and orange extract and blend. Drop eggs, one at a time, into batter mixing well after each addition. Continue to check for any stubborn bits that cling to the bottom of the bowl. A smooth and well blended batter is the goal.
Spray an additional coating of non-stick spray on the sides of the springform pan. Pour cheesecake batter into pan. Place cheesecake into oven (same temperature as crust) and bake for 25 minutes. Rotate baking sheet and bake for an additional 25 minutes. After 50 minutes of baking, turn oven off. Use a ladle or wooden spoon to slightly prop open the oven door. Leave the cheesecake alone, in the oven, for one hour. No peaking. Remove cheesecake and place it on a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool completely to room temperature. The sides of the cake will release from the springform pan. Carefully open the pan and slowly pull pan away from sides of the cake. Place cheesecake in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled. Loosely cover with plastic and allow overnight chilling.
For the compote, place all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook cranberries until they pop and most of the liquid has evaporated. Place compote into a bowl and chill for serving later.
For presentation, slice the cake into 12 pieces. For a nice slice, use a warmed knife for cutting. Slice down into the cake making sure that the knife cuts all the way through the crust. Pull the knife straight out the side of the cake rather than lifting up. Much smoother edges. Ok, OCD coming out a bit. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a side of compote. Pumpkin seed brittle is a nice touch too. See below:
Place 1/2 C of water into a medium-size sauce pan. Add 1 C of sugar. Place on stove over high heat. Bring to a boil. Do not stir or move the pan. Once sugar reaches the right temperature, it will begin to caramelize. Careful at this point to regulate the heat. Once a nice amber color is achieved, remove the pot from the heat and stir in 2/3 C of pumpkin seeds. Pour mixture out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Work quickly now! Using the back of a wooden spoon, spread the brittle out. Allow it to cool completely. Break into shards for garnish. Swanky. Store in an airtight container. For cleaning, just allow the pan to water soak for a while. Never doubt the power of soaking!