Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust and Spiced Walnuts

pumpkin cheesecake

Serious Eats sent an email out about this dessert and I couldn’t resist.  Ultimately, this dessert poofs up in the oven and I was so worried it was going to overflow (but it didn’t).  Every really enjoyed the cheesecake, but personally- I couldn’t stop eating the spiced walnuts.  The cheesecake was light, airy and slightly tart from the sour cream.  Just remember when eating/serving this dessert that it is a cheesecake, not a pumpkin pie!  (Also, make sure to read the entire recipe through before starting.)

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust and Spiced Walnuts
Serves 10
Active time 1 hour, total time 6 hours

For the Crust
• 2 1/2 cups ginger snap cookie crumbs (from a 16-ounce box)
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
• 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
For the Filling
• 4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup sugar
• 16 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces and at room temperature
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• Finely grated zest of 1 orange
• 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
For the Spiced Walnuts and Assembly
• 1 large egg white, at room temperature
• 1 tablespoon orange juice
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 cups walnuts
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 2 tablespoons golden syrup or honey

For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Process cookies in food processor and add remaining ingredients, pulsing until well combined. Press onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch springform pan, leaving about 1/2 inch from top of pan. Line exterior of pan with foil. Bake crust until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely, 15 to 20 minutes.

For the Filling: Place clean kitchen towel in roasting pan. Set tea kettle or pot of water to boil. In a large bowl, whip egg whites and salt on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes longer. With paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and egg yolks on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and orange zest and beat until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin purée, sour cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves and continue beating until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes longer, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. Stir 1/3 of egg whites into cream cheese mixture, then, gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Scrape batter into cooled crust and place in prepared roasting pan. Pour hot water into pan. Bake until cheesecake is set but still a bit wobbly in the center, 75 to 90 minutes. Transfer roasting pan to cooling rack and allow cheesecake to sit in pan 30 minutes. Transfer cheesecake directly to cooling rack and cool completely in pan, 1 to 2 hours. Transfer cheesecake until completely chilled and set, at least 3 hours.

For the Spiced Walnuts and Assembly: While the cheesecake cools, adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk egg white, orange juice, and salt in medium bowl. Add nuts and toss to coat. Transfer to colander and allow to drain, about 5 minutes. Combine sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and clove in second medium bowl. Add nuts and toss to coat. Arrange in single layer on prepared baking sheet and bake until crisp, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break nuts apart and coarsely chop. Heat syrup in microwave for 20 seconds. Brush over cooled cheesecake and sprinkle with nuts.

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