Pumpkin Cheesecake and Bronchitis

This Thanksgiving, I wore a light blazer over a t-shirt while I sipped wine on a friend’s outdoor patio. A little over a week later and it’s 45º outside and blustery as all hell, so of course I’m on antibiotics. To simplify: it’s cold, I’m sick, and I wish I lived in a warmer city.

To combat my illness, I’ve been eating nothing but hot, spicy Asian soup. Udon, phở gà, hot and sour. Soups that make my nose run with the addition of Sriracha, with marrow-filled broth and lots of flash-cooked veggies. I’ve been dairy-free all week; a huge accomplishment for me. It makes sense to crave simple, healthy meals after the decadence of last weeks feasts. So while I’m offering you this overly rich dessert recipe right now, there is absolutely no way I could eat a slice of it myself. This cheesecake balances a luscious filling with a spicy gingersnap crust and a bittersweet ganache topping. I think it lasted about twenty minutes on the dessert table before being devoured. It’s pretty awesome, I’m not going to lie, but it’s one of the least appetizing dishes I can think of right now. Even looking at the pictures (of which there are few, and also none of the finished product. This is why you shouldn’t bake in a hurry.) makes me feel more congested. It’s time-consuming, so I’d save it for special occasions, but you certainly won’t regret it. That is, unless you also have bronchitis, to which I say: drink tea, eat soup, sleep a lot. I’ll be doing the same.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
adapted from King Arthur Flour

Gingersnap Crust:
2 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
5 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream


1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz high quality, extra dark chocolate. I use Mast Brothers 70% bulk chocolate.
1 tbsp corn syrup

For crust, preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10″ round springform pan. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and combine, either with your hands or a pastry blender. Mixture should be moist and crumb-y. Press into the bottom of the springform pan, and at least one inch up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, just until you can smell the gingersnaps. Remove the crust from the oven, and reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

For the filling, place the cream cheese in the bowl of your mixer. Blend on low-speed for a few minutes, until no more lumps remain. Add the sugar, flour and spices and mix for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure to stop the mixer at least twice to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla and pumpkin and mix to combine. Add the eggs one at time, mixing well after each egg is added. Stir in the sour cream by hand. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan/crust and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. The cake is ready when the center of the cake is still a bit wobbly. The temperature measured one inch from the side of the cake will read 170°F. Turn off the oven, prop open the door, and allow the cake to slowly cool in the oven for one hour. Remove the cake from the oven and chill, lightly covered for 4 to 8 hours before serving.

For ganache, heat cream on the stovetop on in microwave until small bubbles form. It should be hot but not boiling. Add chocolate and whisk to combine. Stir in corn syrup. Let cool slightly. When cheesecake is completely cooled, remove sides from pan and pour the warm ganache on top. Can be served while ganache is warm or cooled.