Pumpkin cheesecake is one of my favorite holiday desserts and marbling the pumpkin filling with a bourbon vanilla filling takes it over the top for me. The recipe is my riff on the classic pumpkin marble cheesecake from the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cheesecakes book published in 1989. I found a wire bound copy years ago at a yard sale for 50 cents and picked it right up. The recipes aren’t fussy, just simple and good, with a mix of baked and no-bake cheesecakes. I’ve made a number of cheesecakes from the book over the years and we enjoyed them all.
When it comes to baking cheesecakes, I prefer the Philadelphia brand regular cream cheese (also preferred by America’s Test Kitchen) because the flavor and texture are perfect. For baked cheesecakes full fat cream cheese is the best choice unless you use a recipe specifically adapted for low-fat cream cheese, which this recipe is not. For my adaptations, I increased the amount of chopped pecans and butter in the crust, then added bourbon to the vanilla batter and ground ginger to the pumpkin batter. You can skip the bourbon if you really want to, but if you like bourbon it’s worth a try because it pairs nicely with the pumpkin.
You can also make the cheesecake in a square pan and cut mini cheesecake bars and serve them in decorative cupcake papers, which make perfect little holiday party nibbles.
Bourbon Pumpkin Marble Cheesecake
- food processor (optional)
- 2 medium mixing bowls
- 9-inch springform or cheesecake pan
- stand mixer with paddle attachment, or hand mixer and large bowl
- 1-1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs, or use a gluten-free substitute
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 16 ounces regular Philadelphia cream cheese, softened (not light cream cheese)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons bourbon
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pre-made pie filling)
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 6 tablespoons sifted confectioner’s sugar
- Set the oven rack in the middle and preheat to 350° F/175° C.
- In the medium mixing bowl, stir together the gingersnap crumbs, chopped pecans, and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom and about 1 inch up the side of the springform pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until well blended, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.
- Set aside 1-1/4 cups of the batter and whisk in the bourbon.
- Add the pumpkin, 1/4 cup remaining sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to the batter in the medium bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Spoon the vanilla and pumpkin fillings over the crust, then use a knife to swirl through it to create the marble effect.
- Bake in the preheated oven for up to 50 minutes, but start checking after 35 minutes. The center should be slightly wobbly, but the rest of the cake should not move if jiggled. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Run a plastic knife around the edge to loosen it then allow to cool completely. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.