A Modern Classic
Pumpkin pie is great, but this pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crumb crust and spiced nut topping may be even better.
Step 1: Make Cookie Crumbs
Pulse 2 1/2 cups gingersnap cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs are formed. This will be the base of your crust.
Step 2: Add Butter, Sugar, and Spices
Add 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves to the gingersnap crumbs in a medium bowl.
Step 3: Fold to Combine
Fold the mixture with a rubber spatula until the crumbs are thoroughly saturated. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Step 4: Line Pan
Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, leaving about a 1/2-inch space at the top of the pan all the way around the sides. You can use your hands to start, but a measuring cup works well to smooth out the sides and bottom.
Step 5: Line With Foil
Line the exterior of the pan with aluminum foil, then bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool while you make the filling.
Step 6: Whip Eggs
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip 4 large egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon salt at medium speed until soft peaks form. This will take about 2 minutes. Slowly add 1/2 cup sugar with the machine running.
Step 7: Keep Whipping!
Continue to whip until the egg whites form stiff peaks, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer the egg whites to a separate bowl and set them aside.
Step 8: Beat Cream Cheese
Switch to the paddle attachment and add 16 ounces room-temperature cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and 4 egg yolks to the bowl of the stand mixer. (You don't have to completely clean out the remaining egg whites.) Beat the mixture at medium speed until completely smooth, about 2 minutes.
Step 9: Add Orange Zest and Spices
Add 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, the finely grated zest of an orange, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves and beat the mixture until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds longer.
Step 10: Add Pumpkin and Sour Cream
Add 15 ounces pumpkin purée, 1/2 cup sour cream, and a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and beat until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes longer, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
Step 11: Fold in Egg Whites
To incorporate the egg whites, first stir in about 1/3 of them with a rubber spatula to lighten up the cream cheese mixture. Then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites. The goal is to keep the mixture as light and airy as possible, while also mixing it until it's homogenous.
Step 12: Spread Batter
Spread the batter into the cooled pie crust, using a rubber spatula to smooth over the top and rapping the pan against a firm counter a few times to release any large air bubbles.
Cotton Kitchen Towel
Step 14: Add Cheesecake and Hot Water
Place the cheesecake in the roasting pan, then carefully add boiling water until it rises an inch and a half up the sides of the springform pan. (Do not let it rise above the level of the aluminum foil, or the water will leak into the cheesecake!)
Step 15: Bake
Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the preheated oven and bake the cheesecake until it's set, but still a little wobbly in the center, 75 to 90 minutes. It should register between 175 and 180°F on an instant-read thermometer. Once it's baked, transfer the cheesecake to a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely in the pan, 1 to 2 hours, then transfer it to the fridge to chill for a further 3 hours or up to overnight.
Step 16: Make Toasted Nut Topping
Combine 1 egg white, 1 tablespoon orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl and whisk them until frothy. Pour over 1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts and toss to combine.
Step 17: Drain Nuts
Transfer the nuts to a colander and let them drain for about 5 minutes.
Step 18: Toss Nuts
Whisk together 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Add the drained nuts and toss to coat.
Step 19: Bake Nuts
Transfer the coated nuts to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a 300°F oven until crisp, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow the nuts to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Give them a coarse chop with a chef's knife.
Step 20: Top Cheesecake and Serve
Heat up 2 tablespoons honey or golden syrup in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Brush it over the cooled cheesecake, then top the whole thing with the candied nuts. Serve immediately.