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Layered Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake with Salted Caramel

The spicy, deep molasses of the gingersnap crust is the perfect foil to the custardy pumpkin pie and silky cheesecake. The slight hint of orange in the cheesecake amplifies the nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon in the pumpkin pie. Then, the just-this-side-of-burnt sugar salted caramel drizzled over the cloud of whipped cream pushes the entire dessert into the stratosphere.
Author Rebecca Lindamood

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 2 cups fine gingersnap crumbs
  • 1/4 cup 1/2 a stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup raw or granulated sugar

For the Pumpkin Pie Layer:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 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

For the Cheesecake Layer:

  • 3 8 ounce each bricks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier ~or~ 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
  • 1 cup 7 ounces by weight sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups 13 ounces by weight heavy cream
  • Sea salt or kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  • 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 1/4-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.

To Prepare the Pumpkin Pie Layer:

  • 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.

To Prepare the Cheesecake Layer:

  • 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 2/3 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.

To Prepare the Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 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.

To Serve the Cheesecake:

  • Slice the cheesecake into thin wedges. On each wedge, dollop a hearty amount of whipped cream and drizzle the salted caramel sauce.