This recipe is inspired by Chef Brad Farmerie, who calls his mother's Thanksgiving cheesecake recipe a "home run" to pumpkin pie. I used chef Farmerie’s technique but changed some ingredients, some added and some omitted. I used Dulce de Leche instead of sugar to add a caramel flavor, added orange zest, vanilla and orange extracts, which I like with pumpkin and omitted egg yolks in the Pumpkin Mousse. In the original recipe the cake was baked in 9-by-13-inches Pyrex baking dish, but I recommend making the cake in a spring form; it will look beautiful and make slicing the cake a lot easier. Try it as a decadent alternative to pumpkin pie. —Kukla
one 10-inches cake
For the Crust
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter, plus more, for pan
• 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon orange zest
For the Cheesecake and Pumpkin Mousse
• 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
• 2 large eggs
• 3/4 cup Dulce de Leche or light brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla + 1 teaspoon of orange extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 10-inches spring form; set aside.
To make the crust: In a large bowl, combine melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, sugar and orange zest; stir until well combined. Press graham cracker mixture into bottom of prepared baking dish in an even layer; set aside.
To make the cheesecake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld mixer, whisk together cream cheese, eggs, Dulce de Leche, vanilla and orange extracts until fluffy. Spread cheesecake mixture over crust in baking dish. Transfer to oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
To make the mousse: To a small bowl or liquid measuring cup pour 1/4 cup water; sprinkle gelatin over top and let soften. In a large heatproof bowl, mix together pumpkin, Dulce de Leche, cinnamon and orange zest.
Set bowl over simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is far from simmering water; whisk pumpkin mixture until well warmed through to insure that the gelatin will dissolve completely, for about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture. Let cool to room temperature.
In a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld mixer, beat egg whites and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt until medium peaks form. Fold into cooled pumpkin mixture.
Spread pumpkin mixture over cheesecake; Cover and transfer to refrigerator until set, at least 8 hours and up to overnight. The cake can be made 2 days ahead and kept in refrigerator.
To make the whipped cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together 1 cup chilled heavy cream, 1 tablespoon Dulce de Leche, or light brown sugar and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla + 1/2 teaspoon orange extract until medium peaks form. Serve cheesecake with a dollop on the side.