Reposted from 11/6/08:
I received the premiere issue of The Food Network Magazine yesterday. Let me just say it's a fun magazine. Believe me, the last thing I need is another magazine subscription . . . but this one is a keeper.
They have a feature article entitled "Copy That!". This month they decided to "reverse engineer" The Cheesecake Factory's pumpkin cheesecake since the restaurant chain has its signature recipes "locked up tighter than a CIA brief". I was excited.
The pumpkin obsession is a new one for me . . . I was never a fan. That all changed when I joined Weight Watchers in 2005 - pumpkin happens to be a "free" food. Sure enough I developed a taste for it. Now I can't get enough. If you're a hater like I was, try to live a little. It's a scrumptious walk on the wild side.
12 T unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 3/4 cups sugar
2 lbs. cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
6 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 T. vanilla
2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
1/3 cups toasted pecans, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 325. Brush 10-inch springform pan with some of the butter. Stir in the remaining butter with the crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar and a pinch of the salt. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly and evenly. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack, then wrap the outside of the springform pan with foil and place in a roasting pan.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add the remaining 2 1/4 cups sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla and 1 t. salt and the spices and beat until just combined. Pour into the cooled crust.
Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don't pull the rack out) and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the outside of the cheesecake sets but the center is still loose, about 1 hour, 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door briefly to let out some heat. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from the roasting pan and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Bring the cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Unlock and remove the springform ring. To finish, place a dollop of the whipped cream on each slice and sprinkle with the toasted pecans.