The typical sticky sweetness of holiday cakes and pies freaks me out. Mountains of brown sugar, molasses, corn syrup -- yecch! But then, I saw the recipe for the “Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap and Hazelnut Crust,” in the November 2011 issue of Saveur. I couldn’t ignore this one. I kept thinking about its timely use of canned pumpkin, its modest inclusion of sugar, its bold allowances for cream cheese and sour cream. Yep, I wanted to make it. I like using my simple springform pan, although this time it gets set in a water bath. The whole thing turned out wonderfully; the sweet and sandy crust made of ground gingersnaps, hazelnuts, and butter was amazing.

I’ve been eating and enjoying cheesecakes long before I ever fathomed baking my own. And I’ve revered these tasty cakes for so long, that I shock myself when I manage to make a good one myself. This recipe clearly and easily comes together -- as long as you carefully and calmly follow the steps. After baking the crust, make sure to cool it. After combining the crazy sour cream topping, set it aside. In your stand mixer, wait for your smooth fluffiness and add your eggs patiently. Do wrap your springform pan in aluminum foil, so the moisture from the water bath doesn’t seep in.

Indeed, you must bake this cake for 1 hour 45 minutes. You must, then, let it sit and cool completely (a few hours?) before you put it in the fridge overnight. By morning it’ll be solid enough to eat -- and check out that tangy sour cream topping, firm like a frosting! -- but honestly, the cake will be even more fantastic on the second morning. The cake is creamy, with honest evidence of the allspice/ginger spiciness. A cake to make you swoon, with each slice, for sure.

Hazelnuts (3/4 cup) = $1.61
Sour Cream (16 oz.) = $2.71
Cream Cheese (24 oz.) = $7.35
Canned Pumpkin (15 oz.) = $1.84

RECIPE: make a cheesecake, with discipline
nearly 3 hours to prep and bake, then a good 10 hours of cooling
tangy sour cream topping, creamy cheese spiced with ginger and allspice and cinnamon, and a mesmerizing gingersnap and hazelnut crust, made sweet and sandy by some brown sugar and butter

So, Happy Thanksgiving! After the dust settles from my cheesecake, I want to make the “Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Pasties,” from Return to my site soon, to see what happens with these.