The aroma of cedar and pine fill the air as I open the formerly stored boxes of family Christmas decorations, today. I unearth wrappings filled with ornaments, stockings, garland and lights inciting holiday excitement as each item flows out of the boxes and onto the shelves. Soon, every corner, mantle and windowsill will be filled with festivity and the omnipresent anticipation of the holidays will start to near. The warm scent of cinnamon and orange-clove linger on the trinkets from past holidays.
I unwrap a framed handmade wreath made of my children’s hand prints and place it carefully on the kitchen counter, directly in front of my cutting board where it belongs; it’s one of my favorites. The tattered and worn decorations without sentiment land themselves new homes in the lesser seen areas of the house. The classics and the standards are cared for and lovingly unwrapped from their tissue paper and bubble wrap cocoons, like the two nuzzling iron reindeer that we bought the first Christmas we were married, that Mike begrudgingly and lovingly hauls from storage every year. They go in the center of the family room; another favorite of mine. It’s still a bit early for ornaments, so they’ll have to sit on top of our closet shelf with my rarely used formal clutches for just a few more weeks until we have a tree. We still need to get through Thanksgiving, now don’t we?
Today I am grateful for memories and family joy during the holidays and the roof over our heads and the loving people I’m surrounded by daily. Yesterday I was thankful for washable crayons, but that’s an entirely different story I won’t get into at this moment. The day before that I was thankful for this cheesecake recipe I had come across randomly one day while scouring the internet for holiday recipes. It’s a true holiday show stopper with all the elements of autumnal holiday merriment. The butterscotch topping is optional, of course since I added that into the recipe; I find it adds sweetness to balance out the gingersnap crust on the bottom, which I also added into the recipe. The spiced crust adds some zip to the flawlessly smooth and luscious, creamy, pumpkin cheesecake filling and the toasted pecans on top of the butterscotch sauce are a nod to every family gathering I enjoyed as a child which were often studded with pecan, pumpkin and walnut pies. This rich and decadent cake is definitely something to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving.
Butterscotch Topped Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
- 1 stick melted salted butter
- 1 3/4 cups gingersnap crumbs
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE FILLING:
- 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
- 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Toasted pecans, for finish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
CRUST: Melt butter in microwave-safe medium-sized bowl and then add the remaining crust ingredients and toss together with a spoon. Press cookie crumb crust down flat into a 9-inch spring-form pan and set aside.
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE FILLING: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined, trying not to overbeat, which can cause excessive cracks upon baking.
Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
BUTTERSCOTCH: In a heavy bottomed stainless steel 2 quart saucepan, melt butter over low to medium heat. Just before butter is melted, add brown sugar and stir until it looks like wet sand.
Stir infrequently until mixture goes from looking grainy to molten lava. Stir in the corners of the pot making sure not to miss any sugar and watch carefully as the mixture changes. It will take about 3 to 5 minutes.
Once sugar is liquefied, add all the cream and whisk mixture together thoroughly. Lower heat a little and whisk more. When liquid is uniform, turn heat back to medium and whisk every few minutes for a total of 10 minutes.
After liquid has been boiling on the stove for its 10 minutes, turn heat off and let rest for about five minutes and then pour into center of chilled cheesecake, top with toasted pecans and refrigerate until ready to enjoy.