Not your typical cheesecake, this Halloween dessert employs the orange tinge of pumpkin puree with a spooky (but delicious) chocolate cobweb topping. To keep the orange and black theme going, I like to swap crushed chocolate cookies for the usual graham cracker crust. Mixing fall spices into the cheesecake batter enhances that seasonal spiced flavor.
Spooky Pumpkin Cheesecake
2 cups crushed chocolate wafer cookies (about 9 ounces)
4 packages cream cheese (8 oz each, room temperature)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs (room temperature)
1 can pure pumpkin puree (15 oz)
1/4 cup heavy cream (room temperature)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
For the Chocolate Ganache Cobweb Topping
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (chopped)
Notes: Be sure to leave time to bring your cheesecake ingredients to room temperature for easy mixing and smooth texture. The ganache recipe makes more than you need for the cobweb, so feel free to dunk your favorite cookies or fruit for another Halloween treat.
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees, and prepare a 9-inch springform pan by wrapping the outside in foil up to the sides to prevent leaking.
2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the chocolate cookie crumbs, melted butter and a pinch of salt. Transfer mixture to the spring form pan. Using a flat-bottomed glass wrapped in plastic wrap, press the cookie mixture into an even flat layer that slopes slightly up the sides of the pan.
3. Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Keep the oven on and set aside to cool.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese for 2 minutes until smooth. Add the sugar and mix for an additional 3 minutes, scraping down the sides often, until sugar is fully combined.
5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the pumpkin and heavy cream. On low speed, add one egg at a time to the cream cheese mixture, beating well after each addition.
6. Beat in the pumpkin mixture, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Mix on low speed, then slightly increase the speed for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides with a spatula, until cheesecake batter is fully combined and fluffy.
7. Pour the batter into the cooled crust, smoothing the top. Place the cheesecake pan in a deep-sided baking pan and transfer to the oven on the middle rack. Pour enough warm water into the baking pan around the cheesecake to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Tent the cheesecake with tin foil and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the filling is set, but jiggles slightly in the center.
8. Turn off the oven, leaving the oven door ajar, and allow the cheesecake to rest in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the springform pan to a wire rack to cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
9. For the topping, in a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat, stirring often. Place the chocolate and a pinch of salt in a small mixing bowl. Just before the cream simmers, turn off the heat, pour over the chocolate and cover the bowl. Set aside for 3 minutes.
10. Remove the cover, and stir with a whisk until ganache is smooth. Allow to cool and thicken slightly, about 30 minutes. Then place in a piping bag or parchment cone with a small hole to create the cobweb.
11. To decorate the top of the cheesecake with the cobweb design, start with an “X” across the top of the cheesecake. Add two diagonal lines through the center of the “X,” reaching to the edges of the cheesecake. Working concentrically from the center outward, pipe small arcs of chocolate connecting the long lines in between with the arcs. Repeat this process about 3-4 times around the cheesecake, until you’ve run out of room.