How to: Pumpkin Cheesecake

I don’t make a lot of desserts in general. To be perfectly honest, I’m usually a little tired after making dinner, and when I know that both Joey and I will be just as satisfied with four Oreos and a glass of milk (in some cases a dab of peanut butter is added in) as we would with, I don’t know, a souffle or something, it’s hard to gather up the motivation to spend extra time whipping something up.

But when we have guests, I somehow usually feel a bit more motivated. (You know how I feel about impressing people.)

This weekend, we had a visit from my dear friend Erin, who I first met when I was editor-in-chief of my college magazine and she was one of my favorite writers.

Erin had never seen our apartment (remember, she’s the one who is always harpingasking for pictures of it?) and really had never spent that much time with Joey before. Little did she know, they already had plenty in common. Including a love of cheesecake. (As well as an affinity for joining sides in the never-ending battle called “make fun of Justine.”)

So I decided to attempt a pumpkin cheesecake, something I had been wanting to make for some time now. I used Paula Deen’s recipe with a few minor variations because one of my sisters-in-law made it once and it was amazing. (Total disclosure: Her’s turned out much better.)

Here’s a quick breakdown of the recipe before I get into what I would change:

{ingredients}

In general, I like to make my own crumb crusts for things. (Partly because I love using my food processor, but also because it makes it feel like I did something.) For my pumpkin cheesecake, I used cinnamon graham crackers because, well, why not?

{uncrushed grahams}
{ready for the crust}

Next, you add one full stick of melted butter, 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Pour the crust mixture into the bottom of a spring-form pan and use a spoon or other flat surface to press it flat. (I sprayed the bottom of my pan with a little bit of non-stick cooking oil because my crust ALWAYS sticks, but the crust still stuck so…go with God.)

For the actual cheesecake mixture, start blending three packages of cream cheese in the mixer. (Cream cheese should be room temperature.) When it’s smooth, add one can of pumpkin puree, three eggs plus one egg yolk, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin spice. The actual recipe calls for nutmeg instead of pumpkin spice, but I prefer the pumpkin. Do as you wish.

When that’s fairly blended, add two tablespoons of flour and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. (But I couldn’t find my vanilla, so I skipped that step. No one knew.)

Once the mixture is blended smooth, pour it into your spring-form pan.

(I don’t know why it looks so yellow there…it was orange.) I wrap my spring-form pans in foil before baking, but this recipe didn’t require it. There was still some weird watery liquid that leaked out of the pan though, so that could happen. You want to bake the cheesecake for an hour at 350 degrees.

Here I have a few critiques of the recipe. First, every other cheesecake I made in the past called for a water bath (this is when you bake the cheesecake while it’s sitting in a pan of shallow water), but this one didn’t. If I made it again, I would probably do the water bath if only because I think the extra steam keeps the cheesecake from cracking. (Mine did crack.) Every other cheesecake recipe I’ve done has also called for you to bake it for an hour, then turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional hour. This one did not, and the middle part of the cheesecake was not very solid. Just things to keep in mind if you attempt it. It could be that my oven is not the most reliable (it’s not), so I’m not necessarily blaming the recipe…much.

Anyway, after baking, put the cheesecake in the fridge for four hours or so. (You’re supposed to wrap it in plastic first, but the hubs did this step for me and forgot. Oh well.)

And that’s pretty much it! I would recommend serving with whipped cream if you have it (I didn’t) because it really tastes a lot like pumpkin pie. As I said, mine didn’t bake all the way through as well as I would have liked, so I don’t have any pretty “after” photos. I do have this:

So you’ll just have to trust me it was enjoyed by all.

Lesson learned: It doesn’t have to be pretty to be delicious.

How was everyone else’s weekend? Make anything good?

Be sure to check back tomorrow for my FIRST EVER giveaway from my lovely sponsor, much love, illy! I’m beyond excited to share Illy’s pretty accessories with you — I know you’ll love them! See you then.