Ready to shake things up on the dessert table this Thanksgiving? If you’re looking for a very low sugar and fat yet utterly delectable alternative to yet another pumpkin pie, look no further. My Damn Near Sugar Free Pumpkin Cheesecake blends the rich, creamy, ever-so-slight tang of New York-style cheesecake with the warm, familiar taste of traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Seriously, this is how Thanksgiving dessert should be done – and it’s pretty healthy, too!
Cracking The Case
When I say this cheesecake is damn near sugar free, I really mean it. You’ll be adding absolutely no sugar to the batter, and if it weren’t for the gingersnap crust, it would be totally sugar free. Unlike flour-based cakes which heavily rely on sugar for their texture and structure, you can totally get away with these sugar free shenanigans in cheesecakes – except the top will crack, no matter what. Other than that, I truly can’t tell the difference between a full-sugar and sugar free cheesecake, and I’m a pretty tough customer when it comes to goodies. I assume you are, too, and I assure you, sugar free cheesecakes do not disappoint.
Anyway, the cracks. When you’re making a sugar free cheesecake, you can do a little damage control to the cracking situation by baking it in a bain marie, aka a water bath. All you do is wrap the bottom of your cheesecake-containing springform pan in some foil, set it inside a shallow roasting pan or cookie sheet, and pour some warm water into the outer pan. You can assemble this right on your oven rack if it’s easier, but my oven racks aren’t very cooperative so I fix this up on the countertop, then shuffle it carefully into the oven. Either way, it’s truly no big deal to do, and will help your cheesecake achieve maximum moist delectability.
Damn Near Sugar Free Pumpkin Cheesecake
For this recipe you’ll need a 9″ springform pan, aluminum foil to wrap it in, and an oven-safe roasting pan or cookie sheet at least 10″x10″ for your bain marie.
Enough gingersnaps to make about 1 1/2 cups worth of crumbs (between 18-35 snaps, depending on their size)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 8 oz. packages fat free cream cheese, softened
1 8 oz. package regular cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sweetener, either Stevia in the Raw or Splenda (save money by using store brand sucralose)
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 eggs, at room temperature
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Use a food processor or blender to crush the gingersnaps into crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a smallish bowl and add the melted butter or margarine. Stir well until the crumbs are evenly damp. Press the dampened crumbs onto the bottom of the springform pan to form a crust.
You’ll be baking the cheesecake in a bain marie, so to prevent water from seeping into the springform pan, wrap the bottom of it in foil.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese until it’s very…creamy. Beat in the sweetener. Beat in the pumpkin, vanilla and spices.
Set the electric mixer aside, and switch to a sturdy spoon. Add the eggs to the cheese mixture one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour the batter into the springform pan.
Now it’s time to make the bain marie. Set the springform pan inside the roasting pan. Carefully pour warm water into the roasting pan, so it comes a few inches up the side of the springform. This blog post shows an excellent bain marie setup. The next time I make a cheesecake, I’ll make a point of taking a bain marie picture!
Bake the cheesecake for about an hour and 20 minutes, and then turn to oven off and leave the cake in there for another hour. After the hour’s up, take the cake out, remove the foil, shake off any water that’s rattling around, and cover the cake with a piece of plastic wrap. Put the cake in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving, preferably overnight. This gives the flavors time to marry and go from good to out of this world.
An easy way to make your finished cheesecake look extra delicious is to lightly dust some cinnamon on top before you serve.