The combination of vanilla and pumpkin flavors work so well in this pumpkin cheesecake. Make sure and have the cream cheese and eggs at room temperature and beat until light and fluffy. Simply fabulous dessert for Thanksgiving!
2 cups gingersnap cookies, about 36
¼ cup toasted walnuts
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
½ cup sour cream
½ vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped out and pod discarded
1 (8 oz) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (McCormick)
Cinnamon whipped cream for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the crust, put the gingersnaps in a food processor along with the walnuts and pulse until fine. Remove the crumbs and put in a medium sized bowl. Add the sugar and mix. Pour in the melted butter and mix until incorporated. Press the crumbs to the bottom of a spring form pan and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth, about 4 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time until incorporated into the batter and continue to beat until light and fluffy. This will probably take another 3 minutes. Mix in the sour cream and mix until smooth. Remove 2 ½ cups of the batter and put in a small bowl. Mix in the vanilla seeds to the 2 ½ cups of batter and then spread the vanilla batter onto the bottom of the prepared cooled crust; put the cheesecake in the freezer to firm up for 5 minutes.
Add the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice into the remaining batter and stir until well blended. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer and carefully spread the pumpkin batter over the vanilla batter.
Bake for 50-60 minutes in a water bath to prevent cracking. When the center is slightly jiggly, turn the oven off and open the oven door. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven for about 45 minutes. Remove and set on the counter to cool, about 2 hours. Refrigerate overnight for best results before serving. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Tip**If you want perfectly even layers, after you put the vanilla batter on the crust, freeze for at least 30 minutes before adding the pumpkin layer. This will keep the pumpkin layer from sinking into the vanilla layer. Let thaw out for 15 minutes before putting it in the oven to cook.
**Skinny tip…Substitute 1/3 less fat cream cheese for the whole fat cream cheese.
Makes 1 (9 inch) cheesecake