Years ago, there was a show called ‘Dessert First’ on Food Network, hosted by Anne Thornton. She dedicated her show to only dessert recipes and they all looked divine, including her ‘pumpkin maple pecan cheesecake’. This decadent fall-themed dessert was calling my name, I had to find a reason to re-create it. Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Cheesecake, although delicious, is a very temperamental cake. Every year for the past few years I’ve made this cheesecake for Thanksgiving dessert, and every year it cracks in the center. This year, I was determined to change that. After researching a bit, I quickly learned that eggs are the problem! Cheesecake relies heavily on eggs to help it set properly.
The eggs must be cooked slowly and gently or they’ll overcook, become grainy, then constrict while cooling – which helps create that ugly crack in the center of the cheesecake. Eggs also collect a ton of air, which I’ve learned is also a huge enemy of cheesecake.
It seems like a ton to remember and I’m sure I’m probably the only person who finds this information interesting… but I promise, once you taste this cake you’ll be glad you put in the extra effort to make it perfect!
- Add the eggs last. Eggs harness a ton of air, which is not a friend to cheesecake! To avoid beating too mu
ch air into the batter, whip the ingredients together until fluffy/smooth then add the eggs last.
- Bake then don’t bake. This tip will seem a bit weird, but allowing the eggs to bake slowly and gently is key for the perfect cheesecake consistency. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, then turn the stove off. Leave the cake in the oven to ‘bake’ for an additional hour. Low and slow will do the trick for no cracks and a perfect consistency.
- If it cracks, it’s okay! Both cooking and baking should be fun so don’t stress over the cake cracking. If it does, it’ll still be delicious! Plus, there’s a sweet pecan glaze that falls over the top of the cake… so no one will see the potential crack.
- 10 cinnamon graham crackers, finely ground
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 extra large eggs, room temperature
- For the Maple Pecan Glaze -
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- 1 pinch of salt
- Ensure your baking rack is positioned in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease the inside of a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Set aside.
- Prepare a water bath by wrapping the bottom of your springform pan with aluminum foil and filling a larger pan (or baking sheet) with water. Set aside.
- For the Crust - Melt the 5 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. While the butter is melting, add the graham crackers and sugar to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a fine meal. Pour the crumbs into the prepared springform pan then add the melted butter. Use your fingers to combine the butter and graham cracker 'meal', while spreading the mixture across the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan. Set the crust aside.
- For the Cheesecake - In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on high speed until fluffy. Turn the mixer to a low speed and add the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Beat this mixture until completely combined, light and slightly fluffy. Finally, add the eggs until just barely mixed. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Tap the pan lightly on the work surface to release any bubbles/air pockets. Place cheesecake on prepared water bath pan. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake inside of the oven for another hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven. To prevent it from cracking as it cools, run a thin knife around the edge of the cake. Cool completely at room temperature before storing in the fridge. Once cooled, cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
- For the Glaze - Combine the cream and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chopped pecans and salt. Cover and chill before serving atop the cheesecake.