Pumpkin cheesecake is a North American variation on traditional cheesecake which is made with pureed pumpkin, giving it a distinctive flavor and color. While technically pumpkin cheesecake can be prepared at any time of year, many people associate it with cool weather due to the fact that pumpkins are normally harvested during the autumn months. Some even serve this cheesecake as an alternative to traditional pumpkin-based holiday desserts, especially pumpkin pie. Pumpkin cheesecake is sometimes available in restaurants, bakeries, and supermarkets, and can also be prepared at home using pumpkin puree, cream cheese, sugar, spices, and various other ingredients.
As its name suggests, pumpkin cheesecake is cheesecake which contains pumpkin. The inclusion of this fruit gives the dessert a distinctive orange-brown tint and a flavor that is sweet and earthy but still retains the tangy undertone characteristic of most cheesecake. Like traditional American cheesecake, this type of cheesecake is usually smooth and fairly heavy in texture. It may or may not have a crust, depending on the cook’s preference.
Canned pumpkin puree is available in most North American and some European supermarkets on a year-round basis, and consequently those living in these places can make pumpkin cheesecake at any time. Nevertheless, as pumpkins are traditionally harvested in late autumn, many people associate pumpkin-flavored desserts with chilly weather, and particularly with the period surrounding the US holiday of Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas. Some people even serve this cheesecake instead of or in addition to pumpkin pie, a dessert which has long been linked with these holidays. Many bakeries, restaurants, and supermarkets offer pumpkin cheesecake as a seasonal special during the autumn and early winter.
Home bakers who wish to make their own pumpkin cheesecake can find a wide selection of recipes by consulting holiday cookbooks and Internet-based baking sites. While exact ingredients and procedures can vary from one recipe to the next, all versions require pureed pumpkin, and most also call for cream cheese, whipped cream or sour cream, eggs, sugar, and aromatic spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Some pumpkin cheesecake recipes call for a crust, generally made from graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar, while others are crustless. Many recipes require an hour or more of baking time, although recipes which call for gelatin may simply need to be refrigerated until firm.