When I kissed cheesecake goodbye before starting Nutrisystem last month, it was with several hearty slices of this Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake. (Yes. I did say several.) Cheesecake and I have an “it’s complicated” kind of relationship. For all my picky years, I wouldn’t touch it because I hated cream cheese. (Yes. I hated cream cheese.) Now that I’ve actually TRIED cream cheese and like it, I will still pass up a normal New York style plain cheesecake— unless it’s smothered in chocolate or some other form of pizzazz. (Yes. I’m insinuating that plain cheesecake is plain boring.) When Rob and I lived in Greensboro, NC during my grad school years, we lived a few blocks from the itty bitty downtown. Which was, for a small city, PACKED with great bars and restaurants. On weekends we would hoof it downtown, usually with our first child (Tex) in tow. I always made a stop at either the Green Bean for coffee or Cheesecakes by Alex for a slice of amazing, homemade, non-boring cheesecake. (Ps- You can SHIP IT TO YOUR HOME. You won’t regret it. Promise.) I really think that my serious love for cheesecake began right there in Greensboro. While I will happily walk past the plain cheesecake, if you give me something interesting, I’m going to dive right in. Like my Butterfinger Cheesecake, which is phenomenal. Or this Peppermint Cheesecake from The Grant Life. (Though I would totally add chocolate. Because chocolate and mint!!) The nice thing about cheesecake is that there are tons of basic recipes on the web and as long as you aren’t adding anything totally weird (like a whole lot of straight liquid or something that might otherwise affect baking), you can be creative with them! That means you can find a normal cheesecake recipe and add chocolate chips. Or straight-up chocolate. Or caramel. Or more chocolate. You get the idea? A few years back I had made a Pumpkin Cheesecake, which was lovely, but thought I would try to marry two things I love: pumpkin and coffee. Even if it’s NOT Pumpkin Spice Latte season at your local coffee chain, you can have Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake in your house all year long.
- 2 cups crushed graham crackers
- 1 stick butter
- 1 T instant coffee crystals
- 3 T brown sugar
- 3 8-oz cream cheese packages
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 T flour
- 1 15-oz can solid pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
- 2 T instant coffee crystals
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Ready a 9-inch springform pan. Combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar, coffee, and cinnamon in a bowl. Melt the stick of butter and stir into the graham cracker mixture. Using your fingers, press the mixture into the bottom of your springform pan and a little way up the sides. (I NEVER have luck with a crush going all the way up, but you're welcome to try.) Set aside.
- Beat the cream cheese until it's smooth. Add the vanilla, sour cream, eggs, and flour. Beat until well combined, then split the mixture in half. Leave one half in the mixing bowl and set the other in a medium bowl. To the mixing bowl, add the pumpkin, coffee, and other spices. Blend until well-combined.
- Pour the pumpkin mixture first into the spring form pan, then take the non-pumpkin mixture and layer on top. Gently spread it to the edges, being careful not to combine it with the pumpkin layer below.
- Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, until cool and more firm.
Here’s the thing about this cheesecake: it may be more for those dessert people who don’t like things as sweet. I watch Top Chef and they’re always saying: “This dessert is too SWEET.” While I roll my eyes and say: “Pass that right down here to ME, thanks.” I love sweet and rarely have had a dessert that is (for me) too cloying. Those judges would probably like this cheesecake because the coffee sort of tempers the sweet and makes it luscious, but not insane in the sugar department. Still good enough for me to eat multiple pieces, you know what I’m saying? I also loved trying it with the different layers. The first time I made it, I didn’t separate a creamy layer out and while eating it, I thought, gee— wouldn’t it be neat if it LOOKED like a latte? So I added some coffee to the crust, mimicking the espresso at the bottom of a latte, then the darker pumpkin layer, and then the plain cheesecake on top for the foam-y milk layer. Nerdy note from girl who used to work in a coffee shop: In reality, a latte is mostly milk. Also— if you are buying the Venti size at that most coffee places, realize you are only paying for extra milk. There is no third shot of espresso. Something to think about when you shell out for the larger size. You could absolutely just mix it all together if you want and it will taste fine. (The picture below is the first, non-layered pumpkin spice latte cheesecake.) It is so pretty with the layers! Impress your friends, y’all. And it’s really NOT hard to set aside a bowl of the mixture before you add the pumpkin. If you love pumpkin and you love coffee, try this Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake, whether it’s fall, winter, spring or summer. For me, those flavors NEVER go out of season. What is your favorite flavor of cheesecake? Yum