Pumpkin Spice & White Chocolate Cheesecake

Pumpkin Spice & White Chocolate Cheesecake

You’ve heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Well, it was definitely the impetus for this Thanksgiving dessert, as I was torn between pleasing my stepdad, Mike, who loves White Chocolate Cheesecake and my daughter’s boyfriend, Chris, who expressed a desire for Peanut Butter Cheesecake (which I considered but then swapped for pumpkin in honor of the holiday.)

The combination of the two flavors was even better than I expected, with the white chocolate lending the pumpkin a good measure of sophistication.

Pumpkin Spice & White Chocolate Cheesecake

The only aspect of this dessert that gave me pause was marbling the two cheesecake batters. I have had mixed results with various marbling techniques I’ve tried in the past.

Pumpkin Spice & White Chocolate Cheesecake

This time, I poured large dollops of alternating batters, side-by-side, in one layer and again in a second layer. Then, I used an offset spatula to pull through the layers, first in one direction, then in the other, across the top. And, voila, it worked.

Pumpkin Spice & White Chocolate Cheesecake

Pumpkin Spice & White Chocolate Cheesecake

Pumpkin and white chocolate are an unexpected and completely harmonious flavor pairing. Make this dreamy pie the day before you need it to ensure it sets up fully in the frig.

Base
¼ cup fine, dry, chocolate cookie crumbs  

White Chocolate Cheesecake
two 8-ounce packages best-quality cream cheese
6 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped or disks

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
two 8-ounce packages best-quality cream cheese
6 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs

Topping
2 cups sour cream
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Garnish
2 ounce premium white chocolate in a thick bar (Whole Foods carries it)

  1. To make the Base, sprinkle the cookie crumbs on the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan or removable-bottom cake pan.
  2. To make the White Chocolate Cheesecake, utilizing a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water, or in a microwave, carefully melt the white chocolate, stirring periodically with a clean, dry utensil to evenly distribute the heat. Reserve momentarily. (Note: White chocolate cannot tolerate the same degree of heat that dark chocolate can. If it is overheated, it will turn granular.
  3. Using a processor fitted with the steel knife, process the cream cheese with the sugar until completely smooth. Add the eggs and melted white chocolate. Incorporate thoroughly. Reserve.
  4. To make the Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake, using a processor fitted with the steel knife, process the cream cheese and brown sugar until totally smooth.  (If in doubt, keep processing.)
  5. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and eggs. Incorporate thoroughly.
  6. Pour the Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake batter into the cheesecake pan.
  7. Pour the White Chocolate Cheesecake batter over the top and swirl the two together with a flexible spatula. Alternately, spoon large dollops of each batter, side by side, into the pan and then swirl.
  8. Bake in the upper third of a preheated 350° oven for about 35 minutes. The cheesecake will not appear set at this point. There should be no cracking or rising of the outer edges. Remove from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes.
  9. While the cheesecake is baking, whisk the sour cream with the sugar and vanilla and let set until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reserve.
  10. After the baked cheesecake has set up for at least 5 minutes, slowly pour the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake.
  11. Return cheesecake to the oven for 10 minutes, remove, and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Do not overbake or the cheesecake will be grainy. When totally cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.
  12. Just before serving, grate the remaining white chocolate and sprinkle evenly over the top. (An easy way to obtain large chocolate curls is to warm the top of the chocolate bar slightly with just the heat of your hand and then draw a cheese knife across the top. Repeat the warming for each pass with the cheese knife.)
  13. Cut into slim wedges with a long thin knife, wiping the blade clean on a paper towel between slices.

Serves 8-12.

Variations

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

I create a different pumpkin pie, tart, or cheesecake every autumn, and as good as they each are, this spicy cheesecake remains an all-time fave.

Base
¼ cup fine, dry, chocolate cookie crumbs  

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
three 8-ounce packages best-quality cream cheese
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup canned pumpkin puree
1½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs

Topping
2 cups sour cream
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. To make the Base, sprinkle the cookie crumbs on the bottom of a 10-by 2-inch round springform pan or 10 inch x 3 inch removable-bottom cake pan.
  2. To make the Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake, using a processor fitted with the steel knife, process the cream cheese and brown sugar until totally smooth.  (If in doubt, keep processing.)
  3. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and eggs. Incorporate thoroughly.
  4. Pour the Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake batter into the cheesecake pan.
  5.  Bake in the upper third of a preheated 350° oven for about 30 minutes. The cheesecake will not appear set at this point. There should be no cracking or rising of the outer edges. Remove from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. While the cheesecake is baking, whisk the sour cream with the sugar and vanilla and let set until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reserve.
  7. After the baked cheesecake has set up for at least 5 minutes, slowly pour the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake.
  8. Return cheesecake to the oven for 10 minutes, remove, and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Do not overbake or the cheesecake will be grainy. When totally cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.
  9. Cut into slim wedges with a long thin knife, wiping the blade clean on a paper towel between slices.

Serves 8-12.

Daddy Mike’s White Chocolate Cheesecake

I developed this cheesecake for my cookbook, Pacific Northwest Palate: Four Seasons of Great Cooking, after my stepdad, Mike, began raving about a version he had experienced in a Northwest restaurant. After playing around with the quantities of white chocolate a bit, I perfected it to his satisfaction. He now says this is the best cheesecake in the entire universe.

Note   This cheesecake is really rich. Mike can eat the entire thing, but most people prefer a slender slice.

Base
¼ cup fine, dry, chocolate cookie crumbs  

White Chocolate Cheesecake
three 8-ounce packages best-quality cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped or disks

Topping
2 cups sour cream
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Garnish
2 ounces premium white chocolate in a thick bar (Whole Foods carries it)

  1. To make the Base, sprinkle the cookie crumbs on the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan or removable-bottom cake pan.
  2. To make the White Chocolate Cheesecake, utilizing a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water, or in a microwave, carefully melt the white chocolate, stirring periodically with a clean, dry utensil to evenly distribute the heat. Reserve momentarily. (Note: White chocolate cannot tolerate the same degree of heat that dark chocolate can. If it is overheated, it will turn granular. )
  3. Using a processor fitted with the steel knife, process the cream cheese with the sugar until completely smooth. Add the eggs and melted white chocolate. Incorporate thoroughly. Reserve.
  4. Pour the White Chocolate Cheesecake batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake in the upper third of a preheated 350° oven for about 35 minutes. The cheesecake will not appear set at this point. There should be no cracking or rising of the outer edges. Remove from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. While the cheesecake is baking, whisk the sour cream with the sugar and vanilla and let set until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reserve.
  7. After the baked cheesecake has set up for at least 5 minutes, slowly pour the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake.
  8. Return cheesecake to the oven for 10 minutes, remove, and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Do not overbake or the cheesecake will be grainy. When totally cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.
  9. Just before serving, grate the remaining white chocolate and sprinkle evenly over the top. (An easy way to obtain large chocolate curls is to warm the top of the chocolate bar slightly with just the heat of your hand and then draw a cheese knife across the top. Repeat the warming for each pass with the cheese knife.)
  10. Cut into slim wedges with a long thin knife, wiping the blade clean on a paper towel between slices.

Serves 8-12.

Copyright 2010 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. Jo-Ann Aragon says

    I loved this recipe. It was almost all that I wanted from the start. I also used a gingersnap crust with cinnamon and melted butter. By accident, while my kids were talking to me I used brown sugar in the white chocolate cheesecake so I then used dark brown sugar in the pumpkin cheesecake mix. Additionally, I really wanted to swirl something looking and tasting more like pumpkin pie as I was replacing traditional pumpkin pie this year with this recipe. So I mixed ½ can of organic pumpkin with an egg yolk, drizzled evaporated milk for consistency, 3 teaspoons of brown sugar, ? tsp cloves, ¼ tsp. finer and ½ tsp. cinnamon. Mixed it and dropped it on top of cheesecake and swirled with a knife. I also did not layer cheesecake I dropped mounds of both mixes and then opposite on the next layer, then pumpkin pie mix on top in dollops and swirled. Never have cooked a cheesecake for so little time but I’m obeying. We shall see.

  2. Scott Rismiller says

    I was VERY scared of this type of crust so I made a change. I used crushed ginger snaps and made a usual crust with 1 1/2 cups of crumbs with melted butter. It turned out AMAZING. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Shawna says

    I just tried this recipe for the first time, well it was my first time EVER baking a cheesecake! First of all, let me say how deliciously good it is!! The balance of flavours was perfect!! I followed the directions exactly, however it was still kind of ‘pudding like’ in the centre. Still tasted wonderful of course, but should I have baked it a little longer?

    • says

      Shawna, thanks so much for stopping by and letting us know how this turned out for you. Getting the baking time right is a little bit tricky as oven temperatures vary and the “indent in the middle” visual cue is not exact. I prefer to error on the underbaked side to avoid even a suggestion of “grain” in my cheesecake. However, it sounds like your cheesecake would have benefitted by another 5-10 minutes in the oven. Add just a little more time next time and see what you think. Merry Christmas! :-)

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  5. Jim says

    Why the special emphasis on best quality cream cheese versus all the other ingredients? I mean, I would take it as a given that you would use the best quality you have for any ingredient. Is the the cream cheese something you’ve had a special problem with when using some store brands or something similar?

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Jim, you make a very good point. There is no cream cheese available in grocery stores in my region that is of high quality EXCEPT Philadelphia cream cheese. Most grocery store cream cheese is overly gelatinous and this can be percieved in the cheesecake. For the BEST cream cheese, buy a natural product at your local farmers market. Hope this helps.

  6. Christine says

    Ugh I can’t decide when to make this. I’ve never made a cheesecake, let alone one with pumpkin in it. I’m wanting this for Monday (Christmas Eve), but really only have time tomorrow or Saturday. If I made it tomorrow, I’d feel like it would have to go to the freezer, but I always get nervous with that and thawing, etc. & the crust and such still being right. If I made it Saturday, would it be ok in the fridge until Monday? I never know how long these keep!

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Christine, you can definitely make this on Saturday and serve it on Monday. It freezes beautifully as well. In that case, I cut the cheesecake into slices before covering it tightly with a double layer of foil and freezing it. Then I simply remove a slice or two when needed, put on serving plates and allow to defrost for 1/2 hour at room temperature before serving. You will love this cheesecake. Happy Holidays! :-)

      • Christine says

        This was a hit! I didn’t do so hot with the marbling as my pumpkin batter was much thinner than the white chocolate. I also had to take it out right at 35 minutes as it was starting to crack, but it wasn’t long enough cooking time since the middle wasn’t as nice and thick as the outer edge. Nonetheless, it tasted great! I used homemade graham crackers in my crust, and the combo was really good. Can’t wait for an excuse to make a white chocolate with chocolate crust.

        • Susan S. Bradley says

          So glad it worked for you Christine. :-) It is always a fine balancing act to bake the cheesecake just long enough but not too long. Next time, check the temperatiure of your oven with an oven thermometer. Perhaps it was a little high.

  7. gypsybaker says

    I must admit that I used a 9″ pan and it turned out great…but, I also used the same amount of batter as given for 1 cake to also make 2 x
    little 4 1/2″ cakes (cute little springform pans, I love them so!)…the little one that I kept tasted good after 24 hrs in the fridge but the next day, it was even better..seriously better. I don’t think you can go wrong with this recipe. Having said that, my timing on the 2 little cakes was a bit off and the 9″er cracked a bit (due no doubt, to overbaking) but I’ve made the white chocolate one (Daddy Mike’s) in the 9″ pan using Susan’s instructions and it didn’t crack and was wonderful! Thanks, Susan

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Gypsybaker, thanks for the added information, much appreciated! :-) A good indicator for any size pan is to watch the edges of the cheesecake as it bakes. When the edges JUST begin to puff slightly, the cheesecake should be pulled from the oven. The smaller cheesecakes are a little more prone to overbaking than the larger cheesecakes. Not as much margin for error.

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Rainy Dyer, YES, indeed it is possible. You might need to bake about 5 minutes longer, as the cheesecake batter will be a bit deeper. Let us know how it turns out for you. :-)

  8. Victoria says

    My cheescakes always crack..no matter what. It’s such a disappointment! So, I am tempted to bake this years Thanksgiving cheesecake in a water bath. It’s a method I have yet to attempt so I am a bit apprehensive. Any suggestions?

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Victoria, follow this recipe exactly, taking the cheesecake out of the oven BEFORE it appears to be completely set. Do not use a water bath. Cracks are caused by overbaking. Most recipes are simply wrong on the baking. Let me know how it turns out for you. P.S. I used to have a cheesecake company. :-)

  9. gypsybaker says

    Dear Susan…do you think I could freeze the pumpkin cheesecake, maybe 2 weeks before Thanksgiving & still have the wonderfulness of it? Thank you in advance.

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Gypsybaker, yes, thank you for asking! :-) This cheesecake freezes very well. When it is thoroughly chilled, wrap in plastic wrap and then in heavy foil.

  10. Bryan Iliscupidez says

    I just made this and even made 2 pie/cakes worth! And soooo amazing! Tastes wonderful and the sour cream topping finishes it off amazingly :) definitely a keeper of a recipe
    P.s. white chocolate I used was from Bernard Callebaut

  11. Menaka says

    Baked this cake for a friend yesterday and it was delicious!!! Really yummy; my friend was very happy and my husband even asked why I never baked this cheesecake for him before, lol.
    I love how easy it was to whip this cake. Will definitely bake it again. Thank you for the recipe.

  12. Susan S. Bradley says

    Tessa, you won’t find a cheesecake like this in a bakery, and even if you do, it won’t taste this good. I know, because I’ve tried.:-)

  13. cj says

    I’m trying this recipe and so far it looks good. So 45 minute total bake time? It seems like it should be longer. I sure hope it turns out since I’m committed now.

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      cj, that’s correct. Please heed these directions: The cheesecake will not appear set at this point. There should be no cracking or rising of the outer edges. Remove from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes. Etc. Most cheesecake recipes instruct folks to overbake the cheesecake, which makes it grainy and dry. This cheesecake is velvety smooth if made properly. Happy baking! …Susan

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Anna, nope, the base is simply a bare sprinkling of cookie crumbs. You can of course add a more substantial base if you like, but it’s not at all necessary. Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. bgirl says

    Would using an electric mixer work in place of the food processor with fitted knife if blended very thoroughly? I have a processor but I do not think it is big enough to fit all those ingredients – just a small one.

  15. Jess says

    I made this for thanksgiving dinner and it was a big hit! Awesome recipe and way easier than it looks once you get the hang of melting the white chocolate- I made the mistake of trying the microwave method and it turned super grainy, definitely worth the time to use a double boiler!

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Jess, so glad you liked it! :-) Yes, it’s easy to ruin white chocolate in the microwave. I have the timing down perfectly though for my microwave, so I rarely botch it .

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