Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake & Bourbon Frosting, gluten free

Pumpkin plus cream cheese plus pecans plus bourbon equals awesome...and gluten free, too!

Pumpkin plus cream cheese plus pecans plus bourbon equals awesome…and gluten free, too!

This is an easy recipe because there is no water bath needed for the cheesecake to create a smooth and creamy filling and the pecans in the crust are incredible. The bourbon is not a “must” here if you are avoiding alcohol, but if you can consume a bit of alcohol the slight kick of the bourbon really compliments the pecans, in my opinion. They seem to go together, somehow.
It doesn’t seem to matter if your eggs are at room temperature when you add them, (I have done it both ways with delicious results both ways) but it DOES matter that your cream cheese is at room temperature, otherwise is won’t cream properly. This cheesecake needs a full 8 hours of chilling time before you frost it and after you bake it so plan ahead and time it properly. This decadent beauty is perfect for a holiday table such as Thanksgiving or Christmas but it can be made and enjoyed any time of year thanks to canned pumpkin. On that note, be sure and purchase solid pack pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which already contains spices and will not work here.

Serves: 12
Prep Time/Active Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours (includes chilling time)

For the Crust

3/4 cup crushed gluten free pretzels (I use Gratify brand Sea Salt Twists)
1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped fine (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons demerara sugar (raw sugar)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (1/2 stick)

For the Filling

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (solid pack, not pie filling)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons half and half or cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon bourbon (optional but worth it!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 (8 ounce size) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature

For the Topping

4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon bourbon (optional but worth it!)
12 pecan halves (for garnish)

1. Prep Pan: Trace an outline of the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan onto parchment paper and cut out using scissors just inside the line to make the parchment a bit smaller. Discard trimmings. Lock on sides of pan to the bottom. Spray bottom and sides of pan with vegetable cooking spray. Insert parchment circle into pan, pressing to adhere. Spray parchment with cooking spray. Set pan aside.

2. Mix Crust: In a medium bowl, add pretzel crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, granulated sugar, raw sugar and butter and stir well to combine, making sure to moisten all of the crumbs with butter.

3. Fill & Chill: Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Using the flat part of a dry measuring cup and starting from the center, press mixture down evenly onto bottom and about 1 inch up sides of pan using. Refrigerate crust 1 hour.

4. Preheat Oven: Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5. Mix Wet Ingredients: In a medium bowl, add pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, half and half, vanilla and bourbon and whisk together until well combined.

6. Mix Cream Cheese: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add granulated sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger powder and stir together to combine. Add softened cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes total mixing time, stopping mixer and scraping down sides as needed.

7. Add Pumpkin Mixture: Reduce mixer speed to medium. Add the pumpkin mixture and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute total mixing time, stopping mixer and scraping down sides as needed.

8. Fill Crust: Pour the pumpkin filling into chilled crust. Smooth top of cake with a spatula. Transfer cake to a rimmed baking sheet.

9. Bake Cheesecake: Transfer baking sheet to the oven and bake 55 to 60 minutes or until the center is just set, rotating pan half way through the cooking time.

10. Cool Cake: Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 3 hours. Cover pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate 8 hours.

11. Make Topping: In a small bowl, add cream cheese, sour cream, granulated sugar and bourbon and whisk together until well blended and smooth.

12. Top Cake: Spread frosting in an even layer on cake, making sure to go to the very edges of the cake. Return to refrigerator and chill 2 to 3 hours.

13. Finish & Serve: To serve cake, remove sides of pan and carefully lift from cake. Smooth sides with an offset spatula, as needed. Add pecan halves to the top of cake like numbers on a clock. Cut cake between pecan pieces and serve. Enjoy!

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