Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

9 whole graham crackers (5 oz), broken into large pieces
3 Tbls. sugar
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cloves
6 Tbls. butter, melted

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat to 325 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan evenly with cooking spray. Process crackers and spices for crust in food processor (or crush crackers with a rolling pin and stir in spices. Drizzle melted butter over crackers/spices mixture and stir. Press into the bottom and partially up the sides of the greased springform pan. A flat bottomed measuring cup works well for doing this evenly. Bake in heated oven until fragrant, 12 – 15 minutes. Cool to room temp (about 20 minutes). Once cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two large pieces of heavy duty foil so that it is covered all the way up the sides.

1 1/3 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. allspice
1/2 t. salt
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin puree
3 (8oz) packages cream cheese at room temperature
1 Tbls. vanilla extract
1 Tbls. lemon juice
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Top layer:
16oz sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla

Bring about 4 qts. water to simmer in a stockpot. While the crust is cooling, whisk the sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin on the towels and cover with a second triple layer of towels. Press firmly until the towels are saturated, this will remove unwanted excess moisture from the pumpkin. Peel back the top layer of towels and discard. Set aside pumpkin.

Beat the cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and sides of bowl. Add about a third of the sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl and add the remaining sugar in two additions, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add 3 of the eggs and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl. Add the remaining 2 eggs and beat until incorporated, about 45 seconds, scrape the bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give a final stir by hand.

Pour the filling into the springform pan (that has been wrapped in foil) and smooth the surface. Set the springform pan in a roasting pan. Set the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water to come about half-way up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the center of the cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken and the center reads 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours.

Top layer:

While cake is baking, combine 16oz sour cream, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Once the cake has reached the 150 degrees, spread the sour cream mixture over the top and smooth. This is a little bit tricky with the water bath but works if you pull out the oven rack just far enough to pour the topping on and smooth. Bake cake about 6-8 minutes longer; the topping will look just set, it doesn’t become firm.

Remove the cake from the oven, still in the roasting pan, and set on a wire rack to cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and set on a wire rack to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

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Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
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