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Pumpkin cheesecake

(Food styling/Sheryl Julian and Janine Sciarappa; Wendy Maeda/Globe staff)
November 16, 2011
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Makes 1 large cake

Martha Cotton, a 93-year-old Belmont resident who still cooks, has been making this recipe for decades. She sent it on note paper, written in longhand. “I apologize for the handwriting,’’ she wrote. “but I do not have a computer.’’ She makes it with a graham cracker crust or a ginger snap crust, but prefers the graham. Have all ingredients at room temperature before baking. To help prevent cracking, a few minutes after the cake comes out of the oven, run a thin-bladed flexible knife around the cake and cover loosely with foil while it cools for the first hour.

CRUST

 Butter (for the pan) 

1 1/2  cups graham cracker crumbs 

1/4  cup sugar 

6  tablespoons butter, melted 

1. Butter a 10-inch springform pan.

2. In a bowl, combine the crumbs, sugar, and butter. Stir well. The mixture will look like meal. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Chill 1 hour.

FILLING

1 1/2  pounds cream cheese, at room temperature 

3/4  cup light brown sugar 

5  eggs 

1  can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree 

1 1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon 

1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1/4  cup heavy cream  

2  cups sour cream 

1  tablespoon granulated sugar 

1  teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/2  cup pecan halves or pieces  

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees.

2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, if you have one, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the brown sugar and continue beating until fluffy.

3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and heavy cream.

4. Pour the mixture into the crust and set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to the oven. Bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the sour cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Spread the mixture on the cheesecake and return to the oven for 5 minutes more.

6. Set on a rack to cool. Refrigerate overnight.

7. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

8. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the pecans, tossing several times, for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Decorate with the halves or chop the pieces and sprinkle them on top.

Adapted from Martha Cotton

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