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Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

with Graham Cracker Crust


Graham Cracker Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (18 sheets / sleeves) [225 g]
5 tbsp unsalted butter [71 g]
2 tbsp dark brown sugar [25 g]
1 tsp vanilla extract [5 mL]
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon [1.3 g]

2 3/4 bars of full-fat cream cheese (22 oz total) [622.6 g]
1/2 cup granulated sugar [100 g]
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar [110 g]
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream (4 oz) [113.2 g]
1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin puree [424.5 g]
1 tbsp vanilla extract [15 mL]
1 tbsp bourbon (optional) [15 mL]
1 tsp ground cinnamon [2.6 g]
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg [0.6 g]
1/4 tsp ground cloves [0.5 g]
1/4 tsp ground ginger [0.4 g]
2 tbsp all-purpose flour [15.6 g]
3 eggs [150 g]

Whipped Cream Decoration:
1/4 bar of full-fat cream cheese (2 oz total) [56.6 g]
2 tbsp tbsp granulated sugar [25 g]
2 tsp bourbon (sub: vanilla extract) [10 mL]
1/2 cup heavy cream [120 mL]
3 pinches of ground nutmeg (optional garnish)

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Let 3 eggs, 3 bars (8 oz each) of full-fat cream cheese, and 1/2 cup (about 4 oz) of full-fat sour cream come to room temperature. Adjust oven rack to the lower-third position, and preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C), and begin boiling a large pot of water for the water bath.

Take a medium-sized mixing bowl, add in 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs (18 sheets or 2 sleeves of Nabisco graham crackers), 5 tbsp of unsalted butter that has been melted, 2 tbsp of dark brown sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon. Mix these together until they are well combined.

Take a 9" springform pan, and lightly butter the bottom and the sides. Transfer the graham cracker mixture into the springform pan and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and about 2 inches up the sides. I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack it in just tight enough so they stick together, but not too tight that the resulting crust is too hard. Set this crust aside in the freezer while preparing the cheesecake filling so the crumbs set.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add in 2 3/4 bars (22 oz total) of room temperature cream cheese, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, and a packed 1/2 cup of light brown sugar. With the paddle attachment, mix these together on medium-high speed till it looks smooth. (Wrap the remaining cream cheese in its original wrapping or new plastic wrap and store it in the fridge)

Stop the mixer and add in 1/2 cup of full-fat sour cream, 1 can (15 oz) of pure pumpkin puree, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp bourbon (optional), 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 2 tbsp of all-purpose flour. Continue to beat on medium speed until everything is well combined.

One at a time, add in the 3 room temperature eggs, making sure that the previous egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg.

Pour this batter into the prepared crust, and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all the air bubbles to the surface.

Place 2 large sheets of aluminum foil over a large roasting tray. I use an 11" x 15" roasting tray that's 2" high. You can use any size, as long as the springform pan fits inside it. Place the springform pan in the center of the foil, and fold up the foil so that it creates a high 2-layer wall of foil that is hugging the sides of the springform pan, and overshooting a bit in terms of height - about 1 inch or so higher than walls of springform pan. It's important that there are no holes or tears in the foil so water will not leak into the cheesecake. The 2 layers of foil will help to ensure this.

With the 9" springform pan in the center of the larger roasting tray and the wall of aluminum foil in place, place the roasting dish on the lower third rack in your preheated oven, with the roasting dish not pushed all the way in. Do not close the oven door yet. When the roasting dish is in the oven, pour boiling water into the roasting dish so that it goes up about one inch high, creating a water bath for the cheesecake. The springform pan with the cheesecake should be heavy enough to weigh it down, and it will not float in the water. Very carefully (so water doesn't slosh around) push the roasting dish further into the oven so it is centered, and close the oven door.

(Pouring the boiling water while the roasting dish is already in the oven will avoid having to carry the heavy dish with boiling water inside it).

Bake at 350 F (175 C) for 50 minutes, until it is almost done. The cheesecake should mostly hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage.

Leaving the oven door closed, turn off the heat, and let it rest in the cooling oven for 1 hour.

After resting in the turned-off oven / water bath for 1 hour, remove the water bath from the oven, and carefully lift the cheesecake out of the water bath. Be very careful as water could still leak into the cheesecake at this point.

Let the cheesecake finish cooling to room temperature on a metal rack, uncovered. When it is at room temperature, put it in the fridge to chill completely - minimum of 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Whipped Cream Topping:

(We recommend doing this the following day, after the cheesecake is fully chilled).

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add in the remaining 1/4 a bar (2 oz) cream cheese, 2 tbsp of granulated sugar, and 2 tsp of bourbon. With the paddle attachment, and beat them together on medium speed until they are smooth.

Stop the mixer, and add 1/2 a cup of very cold heavy cream. But for about 1 minute, until the cream cheese and heavy cream are well combined. Switch to the whisk attachment, and continue whipping on medium-high speed until the frosting holds stiff peaks. Store in the fridge till ready to use.

When the cheesecake is completely chilled, unlatch the springform pan and carefully lift off the sides, revealing the cheesecake.

Transfer the whipped cream frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, I like to use a 1M tip. Create a shell border around the top surface, right at the edge of the cake. I like to put the cake on a revolving cake stand for this. To make the shells as evenly sized and shaped as possible, try not to lift your tip when pressing. Just press to create the shell bulb, then decrease pressure while dragging to create the tail. Finally, add an optional garnish by sprinkling up to 3 pinches of ground nutmeg over the whipped cream border.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Enjoy!


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