Pumpkin Cheesecake With Gingersnap Crust Recipe

Pumpkin Cheesecake With Gingersnap Crust on a wooden surface with a cake server on the side.

Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Folding beaten egg whites into the cheesecake batter keeps the texture of the final dessert relatively light.
  • Baking in a water bath ensures that the cheesecake stays creamy.
  • Coating walnuts in a thin coating of egg whites and orange juice helps the sugar and spice coating to adhere.

Dear Great Pumpkin, I am looking forward to your arrival on Halloween Night." —Linus, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Linus sits in the cold pumpkin patch, silly Sally too googly-eyed and blinded by pulsating pink and red cartoon hearts to realize there is no giant gourd coming that night.

Oh Great Pumpkin, humble squash, martyr of October. Stabbed, defaced, lit on fire, hidden in metal cans. I, too, am looking forward to your arrival, but in a more tangible form.

One of my favorite seasonal desserts is pumpkin cheesecake, despite the abundance of its variations and oversaturation of the market with all things pumpkin-and-spice. 

A slice of pumpkin cheesecake topped with candied walnuts on a white plate with a fork in the background.

Vicky Wasik

This pumpkin cheesecake, made with a gingersnap crust, soaked with honey, and topped with candied walnuts, may not be what you had on your Thanksgiving table growing up, but it sure as heck evokes all those taste memories and combines them in a package that's wrought just enough to make your Thanksgiving spread feel fancy without seeming contrived.

This is the Thanksgiving dessert to make when you've got in-laws you want to impress coming over. Here's how to make it, complete with step-by-step photos that will make a dessert that's slightly complicated seem as easy as, well, gingersnap-crusted, candied walnut–topped pumpkin cheesecake.

It's the Great Pumpkin Cheesecake, Charlie Brown. I promise not to pull it away from you.

Recipe Facts

0

(0)

Active: 60 mins
Total: 6 hrs
Serves: 10 servings

Rate & Comment

Ingredients

  • For the Crust
  • 2 1/2 cups (315g) ginger snap cookie crumbs (from a 16-ounce/450g box)
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/3 cup (75g) 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 (200g) sugar
  • 16 ounces (450g) cream cheese, at room temperature (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons (27g) all-purpose flour
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 (15-ounce; 425g) can pumpkin purée (see note)
  • 1/2 cup (105g) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • For the Spiced Walnuts and Assembly
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 2/3 cup (130g) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) golden syrup or honey

Directions

  1. For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).

  2. Combine cookie crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in small bowl, stirring until crumbs are thoroughly saturated with butter.

    Pouring melted butter into a bowl of cookie crumbs and sugar to make a crust for pumpkin cheesecake.

    Vicky Wasik

  3. 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.

    Hand using a dry measuring cup to press cookie crumb crust into the bottom and sides of a springform pan for pumpkin cheesecake.

    Vicky Wasik

  4. Bake crust until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely, 15 to 20 minutes.

  5. For the Filling: Place clean kitchen towel in roasting pan. Set tea kettle or pot of water to boil.

    Placing a blue and white kitchen towel in the bottom of a roasting pan before baking pumpkin cheesecake in a water bath.

    Vicky Wasik

  6. In bowl of stand mixer or large bowl, whip egg whites and salt with whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup (100g) sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes longer. If you used the stand mixer bowl, transfer whites to separate bowl.

    Hand holding a stand mixer whisk attachment with stiffly beaten egg whites and sugar on it.

    Vicky Wasik

  7. With paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, remaining 1/2 cup (100g) sugar, and egg yolks on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, orange zest, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and beat until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin purée, sour cream, and vanilla and continue beating until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes longer, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary.

    Adding pumpkin puree and sour cream to stand mixer bowl of cheesecake mixture to make pumpkin cheesecake.

    Vicky Wasik

  8. Stir 1/3 of egg whites into cream cheese mixture, then gently fold in remaining egg whites.

    Hand using a rubber spatula to fold beaten egg whites and sugar into stand mixer bowl of pumpkin cheesecake batter.

    Vicky Wasik

  9. 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.

    Adding boiling water to roasting pan around pumpkin cheesecake in a springform pan before baking.

    Vicky Wasik

  10. Transfer cheesecake directly to cooling rack and cool completely in pan, 1 to 2 hours. Transfer cheesecake to the refrigerator until completely chilled and set, at least 3 hours.

  11. For the Spiced Walnuts and Assembly: While the cheesecake cools, adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

  12. 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.

    Draining egg white- and orange juice-coated walnuts in a colander.

    Vicky Wasik

  13. 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.

    Arranging sugar- and spice-coated walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet before roasting.

    Vicky Wasik

  14. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break nuts apart and coarsely chop.

  15. Heat syrup in microwave for 20 seconds. Brush over cooled cheesecake and sprinkle with nuts. Serve.

Special equipment

Food processor, 9-inch round springform pan, cooling rack, stand mixer

Notes

It is crucial that the cream cheese be completely softened—firm cream cheese will not produce a smooth batter. I prefer standard pumpkin purée over organic for this recipe—I found it richer in flavor and more concentrated in color. Don't be alarmed: the cheesecake will shrink as it cools.