My Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake topped with whipped cream is a surprisingly easy make ahead dessert recipe for the holidays. Give everybody a break from pumpkin pie this year and serve cheesecake instead!
This pumpkin spice cheesecake has all the flavors of a classic pumpkin pie, but in a lighter, cheesier, moussier form.
There are dedicated pie people and then there are diehard cheesecake people, and I aim to please both types here! I think everyone at your holiday table will appreciate this delicious break with tradition. Even though cheesecake is rich, it somehow feels lighter than other desserts on the traditional holiday dessert table.
I could have spread sour cream on the top of my cheesecake but I decided to pipe on some lightly sweetened whipped cream and dust it with some fresh grated nutmeg, my favorite spice ever. You can mix sour cream or mascarpone cheese into the heavy cream and whip it up for a slightly more substantial topping if you like. I’ll put directions in the recipe card below.
The secret to a creamy cheesecake: room temperature cream cheese!
The thing about making cheesecake is that you always think it’s going to be a lot of trouble when in reality it’s one of the easiest desserts out there. The only fussy detail is that your cream cheese has to (has to!) be at room temperature. The softer the better, so your batter will blend up smoothly.
The safest way to bring cream cheese to room temperature ~
Confession: I usually leave my cream cheese out on the counter overnight when I am baking cheesecake the next day, but I’ve learned this is a no-no…
- Cream cheese is a soft cheese, and it’s an easy target for bacteria when the cheese isn’t refrigerated.
- Cream cheese should only be left out at room temperature for 2 hours, no all-nighters for cream cheese.
- If you cut your cream cheese into smaller cubes, it will soften quicker on the counter.
- I often use the microwave to soften my cream cheese. I like to unwrap the blocks of cheese and put them, in batches of 2, on a microwave safe plate. I microwave them for 15 seconds, and if they need more, 5 second bursts until they feel soft but not hot or melted. Just be sure to use the cheese right away after this treatment.
How to make pumpkin cheesecake ahead ~
- Cheesecakes by their very nature are ideal make-ahead desserts because they need to chill out overnight in the fridge for best texture.
- The cheesecake can be refrigerated without the whipped cream topping, up to 2 days in advance. After the cake has cooled completely, and while still in the pan, wrap and refrigerate. Be careful not to let any wrapping touch the surface of the cake.
- Once the cake is decorated it can sit in the fridge for several hours, uncovered.
How to freeze cheesecake
For longer storage, cheesecake can be frozen for up to a month or two.
- Let it cool completely to room temperature, then wrap carefully in plastic wrap. Follow that with a layer of foil.
- Be sure to freeze the cake without the topping, You’ll add that just before serving.
Tis the season for pumpkin desserts and there’s no shortage of them on the blog. Have you made my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread? It’s the very first pumpkin recipe we make every year, I’ve got standing requests from both daughters, neighbors, and various other peeps :) My Pecan Praline Pumpkin Cake‘s pretty cool too. Just type ‘pumpkin‘ into the search bar and you’ll get it all.
How to prevent cheesecake from cracking!
It’s everybody’s nightmare, but honestly, it’s not that bad, even if your cake cracks your topping will cover it nicely. But here are the top tips for preventing it in the first place:
- Take a little extra time to line the sides of your cheesecake pan with parchment paper, this really helps with cracking. Cut a long strip, lightly spray the pan so the paper will adhere, and stick it on. The reason this works is that as the cake is cooling and shrinking, the paper keeps it from sticking to the sides of the pan and creating a crack.
- Be sure to follow the recipe instructions and leave the cake in the oven (with the heat off) for 2 hours. This lets the cake cool nice and slowly and helps prevent the sudden shrinkage that creates cracks.
- Avoid over baking the cheesecake, it will still be slightly wobbly in the center when done.
- Some bakers swear by baking cheesecake in a water bath, but I don’t find it necessary with this recipe.
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
- 9 inch spring form pan
- 1 1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp butter melted
- 4 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature, do not use whipped cream cheese
- 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice or 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 large eggs
- 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 cup whipped cream
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 4 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- fresh grated nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Lightly butter a 9 inch spring form pan Mix the crumbs and sugar together until completely combined with no lumps of sugar. Add in the melted butter and mix until all the crumbs are evenly moistened.
- Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of your pan. Bake for 8 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, blend the cream cheese and sugar until well mixed and lump free. It is essential to have your cream cheese soft or you will get lots of lumps.
- Blend in the pumpkin, spices, extract, and salt.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, letting each one get incorporated before you add the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold in the flour.
- Place your pan on a baking sheet and fill with the batter. Smooth out the top.
- Put the tray in the oven, and turn the heat down to 300F. Bake for about an hour, then turn the heat off, without opening the door, and leave the cake in the oven for another 2 hours.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Then wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Whip the cream with the cream of tartar, sugar, and extract to the firm peak stage. Pipe or spread on the top of the cake, and dust with nutmeg