This recipe is from this month’s issue of Food and Wine magazine.
Though it seems like a lot of work, the cheesecake comes together quite quickly and has a incredibly light and refined texture. Browning the pears in butter took longer than the recipe specified (maybe I should have not been so lazy and divided up the pears into batches), but they were still a delicious topping to have.
In the future, I might experiment with some kind of Concord grape topping instead. Purple and orange can look so nice together, and the punchier grapes might be the tangy hit of acid that can turn a great dessert into something sublime.
For the cheesecake:
8 ounces of gingersnap cookies
2/3 of a cup, plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
12 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
For the brown-butter pears:
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 large, ripe Bartlett pears, peeled and cored*
1 teaspoon of sugar
How to prepare:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, pulse the gingersnaps with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and a pinch of salt until fine crumbs form. Add the softened butter and process until moistened. Using your fingers, press the gingersnap crumbs into the bottom of a buttered 9-inch springform pan in an even layer. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, until it is lightly browned. Let the crust cool slightly, then wrap the the bottom of the pan tightly in aluminum foil so it’s watertight. You might need to overlap several sheets to make sure that you have everything covered and sealed. Set the pan in a large, deep skillet or a small roasting pan.
2. Using a paper towel, wipe out the food processor bowl. Add the softened cream cheese, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar to the food processor bowl and process for about 30 seconds until smooth. Add the eggs and pulse to blend. Add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and process for about 30 seconds, or until smooth.
3. Carefully pour the pumpkin filling over the gingersnap crust. Set the skillet in the oven and carefully pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for about 50-55 minutes, until the filling is barely jiggly in the center. Carefully transfer the skillet to a rack and let the cheesecake cool. Remove the aluminum foil. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cheesecake and refrigerate the cheesecake until it is firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
4. Cut the peeled and cored pears into thin wedges with a sharp knife. In a large skillet, cook the butter over moderately high heat until it is lightly browned and nutty-smelling, about 3 minutes. Add the pear wedges and cook, turning until they are softened and lightly browned. Add the sugar and cook, turning until the pears are more browned and glazed, about 1 minute longer.
5. To serve, remove the springform ring. Cut the pumpkin cheesecake into wedges and serve with the warm pears.
To easily core a pear, cut the pear in half and use a melon baller to remover the core.
This cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Warm the pears up on the stove before serving.