The Thanksgiving celebration I've been invited to has requested that I bring a pumpkin cheesecake. (I know, it sounds oddly specific, but I'd expect nothing less from these particular friends.) Tempting though it is to just buy one (an option they gave me), I've been trolling the internet for recipes, thinking I really ought to try making one. I love cheesecake, and I like baking, and I have an unused set of springform pans (a gift from one of the upcoming T-day hosts), but I've never made a cheesecake. Shame on me, I know.
So obviously, if anybody has a favorite recipe, or specific advice, it would be appreciated. But mostly I'm curious, given my crazily unpredictable schedule, how far in advance I can make this. A search of these boards indicates that it's unwise to freeze a cheesecake. But can it simply sit in the fridge for a few days? Can I make it in the next day or two (when I should have some free time) and store it in a way that it will still be palatable come Thursday? I'd hate to suddenly find myself without the time to make it the night before.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
I have made the marbled pumpkin cheesecake from the Epicurious site for years. It is a super easy cake to make and yes you can do it ahead. I have prepared the cake on the Sunday before but personally I think it tastes better if you do it on Tuesday. If you have work constraints, measure out the ingredients on Sunday, make the crust on Monday, and make the actual cake on Tuesday or Wednesday. If the cake does somehow crack, a light layer of cream cheese frosting or white chocolate ganache on top does wonders. This cake also freezes really well.
I made the Cooks Illustrated pumpkin cheesecake last year and will be making it again this year. It's amazing. And I think I made it 3 days in advance without any adverse effects. So I say, "Go for it!"
This is a good recipe with a gingersnap crust (and directions are easy to follow):
I'd also recommend using a water bath. Make sure to wrap the springform pan well w/ aluminum wrap (if you can get heavy duty, extra long, it makes it much easier). When you put the cheesecake in the oven, place it in a roasting pan (or any pan large enough for hold the springform pan) and add boiling water to the roasting pan, about 2" high. Then follow the directions from Leite's about leaving it in. No cracks then. With the vanilla whipped cream, I'd use rum instead of the vanilla. You can make it a day in advanced, keeping it covered in the refrigerator (making sure it's cool first). Run a knife around the cheesecake after an hour. Let it cool completely at room temperature. Then cover w/ plastic wrap. If it's not completely cool, you'll get condensation on the plastic wrap.
I have made this one many's a time and it tends to go over very well....looks nice on the table too. Been making this one for years, one of the first cheesecakes i ever made in fact.
Alot of cheesecake recipes actually recommend making the cake a couple of days ahead, to allow the flavours to develop. Epicurious also has a pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon that sounds promising.
Other thanksgiving cheesecakes I have made are the apple almond one, also epicurious, a cranberry orange variety, as well as a new york cheesecake with a spiced pear topping and gingersnap crust.