My friend Christine knows a surefire way to spur me to action. We were idly discussing her menu plans for the Thanksgiving dinner she is hosting for her family, when she said, “oh, I’ll just pick up some pies from the store.” Blame my long-sworn devotion to Martha Stewart, but those words are blasphemy to my ears. Homemade pies (and crusts) are a must! I immediately invited her over for a pre-holiday baking workshop.
Admittedly, my motives were not entirely altruistic. I spend the entire month of November poring over food magazines and blogs, inevitably with more recipes catching my eye than I could make if I served three Thanksgiving dinners. Perhaps I should thank her for providing an excuse to spend an entire Saturday in the kitchen testing pies.
This Pumpkin Cheesecake pie is for those of you who, like me, find both pumpkin pie and cheesecake delicious, but too one-note to eat an entire slice. The flavors are classic, but the layering gives it a nice balance. And most importantly for a Monday-before-Thanksgiving post, it could not be easier to create. This pie tastes best straight out of the fridge, so bake it tonight and it will rest comfortably until Thursday afternoon. Serve with a little ginger-spiked whipped cream, and revel in the knowledge that your dessert tastes infinitely better than anything you can pick up at the store.
Graham Cracker Crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (appx. 12 crackers)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup water
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
In the food processor, crush graham crackers and measure 2 cups into a bowl. Melt the butter and stir into the crumbs. Add water, starting with 1/4 cup, adding more by tablespoons if needed. The mixture should still be slightly crumbly, but adhere when pinched together. Press into your deepest 9-inch pie dish and refrigerate until filling is ready.
Preheat oven to 425. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to beat the softened cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Reduce speed to low and add the egg and vanilla. Spread the cheesecake filling in the chilled crust, smoothing out the top, and place back in the refrigerator.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt and spices. Add the pumpkin, evaporated milk, and eggs, and whisk just until smooth. Carefully spoon the pumpkin filling atop the cheesecake layer, leaving a 1/4″ of crust at the top of the pie. Take care when adding the pumpkin filling so as not to disturb the cheesecake layer. If you have leftover pumpkin filling, pour it into a ramekin and bake it along with the pie until a tester comes out clean.
Place the pie the oven, and bake it for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350, and continue to bake for 40 to 45 minutes, covering the edges of the pie with aluminum foil if it starts to look too brown. When done, the pie will look set, but still wobble slightly in the center when jiggled. Remove the pie from the oven, allow it to cool completely, and then refrigerate. Serve cool, with whipped cream.