Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

November 22 2020

When you take a poll of your besties regarding pumpkin pie, and they all say "ewwwww" (think of Schitt's Creek, please) then you realize you need to come up with a dessert that is fitting for the holiday, but isn't pumpkin pie! Cheesecake, maybe? Definitely!

This cheesecake is luscious...it's creamy and light. It has pumpkin cheesecake batter swirled in with the plain cheesecake batter to give it a festive look. There is plenty of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and ginger to give you a true Autumn taste. Top it with homemade whipped cream and salted caramel sauce and it's really hard to resist! Never again will those immature girlfriends & sisters of mine say "ewwwww"!

The crust is made with crushed up gingersnap cookies to give it a wintery flavor. The two different cheesecake batters get dropped over the baked crust and then swirled together.

The cheesecake really benefits from putting it in a water bath. This will prevent the cheesecake from cracking and will help it to rise evenly. In this version, you wrap up the pan tightly in aluminum foil but I'm going to suggest that you use heavy-duty foil and wrap it a bunch of times. You don't want a soggy crust! The alternative is to put a pan filled with boiling hot water on the shelf in the oven below the cheesecake. The idea is to steam the cheesecake. I've heard this works, but I haven't tried it yet (next time).

Pumpkin Swirl


Makes: 12 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes Bake Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 9 hours 45 minutes

Gingersnap Cookie Crust:

2 cups gingersnap cookies*

1/4 teaspoon each: ground ginger and ground cinnamon

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar


4 8-ounce blocks (904g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup (80g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (227g) pumpkin puree*

1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*

topping suggestions: salted caramel and whipped cream

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the gingersnap cookies into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in ginger, cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) Mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a few large pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath. Allow crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.

Make the filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract, then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can.

Scoop out 2 cups of batter and place in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the pumpkin, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice until combined. Begin adding spoonfuls of each batter, the plain and the pumpkin, on top of the crust. Alternate until all the batter is used and pan is filled. Using a toothpick or knife, swirl the batters together by dragging the toothpick top to bottom, then left to right.

Prepare the simple water bath: Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. I use an entire kettle of hot water. As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place in the oven. (Or you can place the roasting pan in the oven first, then pour the hot water in. Whichever is easier for you.)

Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 1 hour as it cools down. Remove cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Add toppings, if desired. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.

Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Chef's Notes:

Make Ahead Instructions: This cheesecake can be made the day before. It has to chill for quite some time before serving. Another way to make this cheesecake ahead of time is to freeze it. Cheesecake can be frozen up to 2 or 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Gingersnap Cookies: Store-bought gingersnap cookies are ideal as they are the most dry. The ONLY brand that I’ve had issues with is the Nabisco gingersnap cookies. They’re delicious on their own, but they’re too moist for a gingersnap cookie crust. Alternatively, you can use a graham cracker crust instead. Feel free to add or reduce the amount of cinnamon and ginger based on your taste preference.

Pumpkin: I recommend canned pumpkin, not fresh pumpkin puree in this recipe. I like to use Libby’s brand. Fresh will work in a pinch, but the cheesecake is tastier and more firm with canned. Do not use pumpkin pie filling.

Pumpkin Pie Spice: Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each: ground allspice and ground ginger AND 1/4 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg and ground cloves.

Why is Everything at Room Temperature? Bring all cold ingredients to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients combine quickly and evenly, so you won’t risk over-mixing. Also, beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake batter, hardly the way you want to begin!

Water Bath: Some readers have baked cheesecakes with a large pan of hot water on the rack beneath the baking cheesecake. In this manner, the cheesecake does not bake directly in a roasting pan of water. I have never tried this method, but many report back with great reviews! This is a wonderful alternative if you do not own a large roasting pan or are nervous about your springform pan leaking. Simply place a large baking pan filled with 1 inch of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

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