This cake has two layers and this post has two purposes. One is a no-brainer: to share the recipe. The other? Well the other reason is a serious case of Mama pride. This cake is what my pickle in the middle son requested for his birthday but that’s not why I’m proud. I’m busting my buttons because he came up with the idea for the cake.
Let me backtrack a bit and introduce you to my guy.
This is Ty.
Not Tyler, not Tyrone, not Tyson. He’s Ty. It’s a Welsh word that means “House”: as in strong like one. And Ty is. He’s the strong, silent type. He has a fast wit, but you have to listen for it. Believe me, it’s worth listening.
Ty is a sports and outdoors nut.
He’d just as soon be hitting home-runs, throwing balls, climbing trees, running laps, slap-shotting, or bicycling at warp speed as he would anything else. Don’t let his elven appearance fool you. He is made of stern stuff. He taught himself to ride his own bike in one afternoon. It didn’t matter that he fell of about fifty times. He was determined to learn it and no gravity was going to stand in his way.
He zigs when others zag. (Note the upturned corners of the mouth during the obligatory Sturgeon Faces at the Sturgeon River pose. He’s the happy sturgeon next to the Grandpa Sturgeon.)
Sports, admiring cats, and reading Harry Potter are three of his favourite past times, but there’s one bigger than anything else. The boy loves to cook.
It gets better, though, because he’s darned good at it. He loves traditional British food (think treacle tarts, shepherd’s pie, toad-in-a-hole, etc…) but he’s an innovator, too. Proof of this came with his birthday dessert request; he wanted me to whip up a gingersnap crusted pumpkin pie with a thick cheesecake layer on top, thus combining all of his best-loved desserts. And here’s the kicker; he wanted to help make it.
Ty and I made gingersnaps together.
We snuck a couple, shared a few with the rest of the family and turned the remaining cookies into crumbs for our crust. He tossed in melted butter and sugar and pressed it into the bottom of a parchment lined springform pan.
We whipped up a small batch of pumpkin pie filling and a medium batch of cheesecake batter.
We did a very convoluted method of pouring both into the pan (which you can skip since it formed its own layers), put the pan in the oven, then sat down with a cup of tea (any Welsh readers will recognize the seriously appropriate nature and wondrous pun of Ty’s love of tea) to wait for the cake to finish baking.
After it was set up, all that was left was the long overnight wait for the cake to chill through and birthday proper to begin. Showing much more patience than his Mum, Ty insisted on waiting until after dinner (shepherd’s pie) to cut into the cheesecake pie. And like Ty’s humour, it was more than worth the wait.
The spicy, deep molasses of the gingersnap crust was the perfect foil to the custardy pumpkin pie and silky cheesecake. The slight hint of orange in the cheesecake amplified the nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon in the pumpkin pie. The just-this-side-of-burnt sugar salted caramel drizzled over the cloud of whipped cream pushed the entire dessert into the stratosphere.
Can you see why I’m about ready to pop with the pride?
Oh, these boys of mine. I think I’ll keep them. Happy Birthday, my Ty guy. You are very loved.
- 2 cups fine gingersnap crumbs
- ¼ cup (1/2 a stick) butter, melted
- ¼ cup raw or granulated sugar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground or grated nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 1 can (15 oz.) canned pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
- 3 (8 ounce each) bricks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier ~or~ 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
- 1 cup (7 ounces by weight) sugar
- 1⅔ cups (13 ounces by weight) heavy cream
- Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
- Grease and line a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper. Position the springform pan in the center of a rimmed baking sheet. Toss together all of the ingredients for the crust with a fork and press evenly and firmly onto the base of the prepared pan. The crumbs may extend up to ¼-inch up the sides, but no higher. Set aside.
- Position your oven racks so there is one in the center and one far enough below it to hold a bread or cake pan that will be filled with boiling water. Preheat the oven to 300°F and put a kettle of water on to boil.
- Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, use a fork or whisk to combine the sugar and spices. Add those along with the pumpkin puree to the eggs and whisk until smooth. Stir in the evaporated milk and pour carefully into the prepared crust.
- In a food processor fitted with a metal blade (or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk), blend the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Scrape down the sides, add the eggs and blend until smooth again. Scrape down, add remaining cheesecake ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour carefully into the center of the pumpkin pie filling.
- Place the baking sheet with the sprinform pan on the center rack in the preheated oven and pour boiling water from the kettle into the loaf or cake pan. Bake for 60-80 minutes, or until the outer ⅔ of the cake is set but the center is still a little jiggly. Turn off the oven and insert a wooden spoon in between the oven and the door to hold it slightly ajar. Let cool, along with the oven, to room temperature.
- Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cheesecake and refrigerate overnight before serving.
- Melt the sugar (with just a couple drops of water to help it along, if you're uncomfortable melting it dry.) over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot until it is a nice, deep-caramel colour. Do not stir as this causes crystallizing in the caramel. When it reaches the caramel colour you want, pour in the heavy cream (taking care as this will bubble up massively), whisk it and remove from the heat. Add sea salt (a couple good pinches usually does the job) to taste, whisk and set aside to cool to a comfortable temperature.
- Slice the cheesecake into thin wedges. On each wedge, dollop a hearty amount of whipped cream and drizzle the salted caramel sauce.