I’m not American, and the longest I’ve been in the U.S. is only six months, during a university exchange program. But whenever American Thanksgiving rolls around, I feel a special connection to it, mostly due to the very fond memories I have of celebrating Thanksgiving with my husband’s three cousins and their families in Texas. You see, whenever we were there, there would be 19 of us under one roof! So the house was always filled with non-stop chatter, effervescent laughter, warm hugs, and great smells wafting from the kitchen. If that’s not the ideal family gathering, I don’t know what is.
I am thankful for turkey at Thanksgiving. Turkey is delicious, low in fat, and for a person who doesn’t eat chicken, turkey is a god-send. But pumpkin pie? No offense, but I just don’t get pumpkin pie. So when we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for American teachers from an International school near our home, I decided to honor the pumpkin but do away with the pie. So dessert for the night was pumpkin cheesecake with an adult-only rum-caramel sauce.
The key ingredient in a pumpkin cheesecake, is the pumpkin. I decided to use pure canned pumpkin to standardize the recipe, since the water content might differ between yours and mine if we made the puree from fresh pumpkin. But do read the labels carefully to make sure you only buy 100% pure pumpkin without added sugar, as there are canned products out there that are sort of the cake-mix equivalent of pumpkin pie. Now that the key ingredient is sorted, we’re ready to begin!
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Rum-Caramel
Yields: One 7″ round cake
120g ginger snaps or graham crackers or digestive biscuits
60g butter, melted
1 cup (240g) pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup (80g) brown sugar
500g cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup (80g) sugar
2 tbsp (30g) cream
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
- Wrap bottom and outside of a spring-form pan with aluminum foil. If using a cake ring, line bottom with parchment first, then aluminum foil.
- Preheat oven to 350oF.
- Crush ginger snaps or digestive biscuits till fine crumbs, then add melted butter. Press into bottom of pan to form base. Set aside.
- Beat soft cream cheese and sugar in mixer till smooth, making sure there are no lumps. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of the mixing bowl with each addition.
- Add all other ingredients and mix till smooth.
- Pour cheesecake filling into prepared pan. Then set the pan in a larger pan/tray with depth. Pour hot water into the larger tray so that the hot water comes up to half the height of your cheesecake pan.
- Bake in the bain-marie (water bath) at 350oF for ~45 minutes
- Cheesecake is done when you shake it and it jiggles slightly in the middle. It should not be liquid and not fully set.
- Turn off the oven, keep the oven door open and let the cheesecake rest inside the warm oven for ~30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and bain-marie. Cool on a rack until room temperature, then chill in fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- To release cake from pan, run a paring knife along the sides of the cake pan/ring, then remove cake.
Splash of dark rum
- Scale sugar and water into a saucepan, stir it to moisten sugar and then put it over medium high heat.
- When sugar turns golden brown, add cream bit by bit and stir with a whisk. The mixture will bubble up so be careful and make sure your pot is not too small!
- Stir in butter and rum quickly.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- Drizzle over pumpkin cheesecake, or spoon directly into your mouth!