Cake 17: Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake

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I know I have done the chocolate and pumpkin thing before when I did the chocolate cake with pumpkin cream cheese filling, but it was Thanksgiving and this is what my dad wanted, so I obliged. It’s still a very different recipe. He made a lot of tasty cheesecakes and other things growing up, and is quite the chef and baker. But this Thanksgiving cheesecake was a doozy, so my dad, brother and I had to pool our efforts to get it out in time. It’s basically two cheesecakes in one.

Below is the recipe we modified for our purposes, and honestly, we took a lot less time than this because we were in a hurry and we were competing for oven space, but if you want it done right – start early and take your time. It’s definitely a prepare-ahead kind of Thanksgiving dessert. It’s a complicated cake recipe, but it is decadent and worth it, plus it does so well sitting in the refrigerator!

There are four parts you’ll need to make: chocolate fudge pecan crust, chocolate cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate ganache. (If you ever wanted to cut your work by a lot and simplify, you could do one or the other cheesecake and skip the combo. The crust and cheesecake even without the ganache would be delightful. So mix and match as you see fit!)

Photos by Cody Bashaw.

Fudge Cookie Pecan Crust Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup toasted pecans, crushed
  • 6 or so fudge cookies (we used Oreo Fudgees)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)

Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (chopped)
  • 0.25 cup brewed coffee
  • 12 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • 0.75 cup white sugar
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • 16 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • 0.75 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 0.25 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 0.25 teaspoon allspice
  • 0.125 (1/8) teaspoon cloves

Chocolate Ganache Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 12 ounces chocolate (chopped)

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe Directions

  1. Fudge Cookie Pecan Crust: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Toast 1 cup of pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes or until browned a bit. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. In a food processor, or in our case a big sealed plastic bag, chop the fudge cookies and pecans until you get about 2 cups worth of crumbs. In a bowl combine the crumbs and the melted butter and stir together. In the bottom of a 9″ spring form pan, press the crumb mixture completely into the bottom until you have a uniform, flat crust. Lower the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Chocolate Cheesecake: Heat about 1 inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler over medium to high heat, and place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate and coffee in the top. Heat slowly, and stir consistently. In a separate bowl, put the 12 ounces of softened cream cheese, sugar and salt. Beat on low for a minute, then on medium for two more minutes. Scrape the batter down the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing, adding one egg at a time and beating on high for about 20 seconds each. Add the vanilla and beat in. Last, add the chocolate mixture in and beat in completely. Use a rubber spatula to turn the batter over a couple times and make sure it is blended evenly. Pour over the crust in the springform pan and set aside at room temperature to prepare the pumpkin cheesecake.
  3. Pumpkin Cheesecake: Coat the inside of a 9″ round cake pan (width is important here, folks) with about a teaspoon of butter. Line the pan with parchment paper and coat that with the other teaspoon of butter. In a large bowl, mix the 16 ounces of cream cheese, sugar, flour and salt and beat on low for 1 minute, then high for about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on high for about 20 seconds after each. Add the vanilla. Then add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, allspice and cloves and beat until mixed completely. Use your rubber spatula to turn the batter a couple of times and make sure it’s mixed completely. Pour it into your prepared cake pan.
  4. How to Bake Cheesecakes:Put a pan with about 4 cups of hot water on the bottom rack in your 300 degree oven, and it should be at least a few inches below the center rack. Place both cheesecake pans on the center rack and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Leave the oven closed to reduce the risk of cracking. Turn off the oven after that time, and leave them in the oven for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature for about a half hour in the pan. Then refrigerate the chocolate one, but keep the pumpkin one out, both still in their pans.
  5. Chocolate Ganache: In a saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream, butter and sugar over medium heat. Pour in the sugar, stir, and bring to a boil. Put your chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour the boiling cream mixture over the chocolate. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, then stir until it’s completely blended and smooth. Cool at room temperature.
  6. How to Assemble Cheesecake: Pour about 1 cup of the ganache over the chocolate cheesecake in the springform pan. Invert the pumpkin cheesecake, top side down, onto the chocolate layer and ganache. Press down gently to set the cake. Wrap the entire pan and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. (Now go put your feet up because you’re probably totally exhausted by now.)
  7. How to Finish the Cheesecake: Remove the plastic wrap from the pan, and wrap a hot towel around the sides of the pan for a minute or so. Slowly, carefully release your spring to remove the springform pan rim. Pour the remainder of the chocolate ganache over the two-layer pumpkin and chocolate cheesecake. Refrigerate at least another 30 minutes.

*Phew* You are finally done! This thing may seem like a complicated recipe, but if you take your time and prepare, it is easy to manage and totally worth it. The chocolate pumpkin cheesecake recipe is absolutely decadent and delicious and perfect for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert that will wow your family and friends.

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Heather is an advertising professional in Kansas City. She is a vegetarian food-lover who finds joy in cooking, baking and finding new restaurants in new cities. She leads a pack of animals, including her beagle Ford, her shepherd-collie-retriever mix, Otto, and cat, Ahab.

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