This pumpkin Basque cheesecake features a deeply toasted top and creamy spiced pumpkin filling smothered in a rich toffee sauce.
For Thanksgiving this year, I’m ditching the classic pumpkin cheesecake for a pumpkin Basque cheesecake. It’s part of me being lazy and not wanting to have a soggy bottom or burning myself with a hot water bath. To be honest I prefer a Basque cheesecake over a classic one anytime. I couldn’t think of a better fall combination than pumpkin and warming spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Once you taste a bite of this pumpkin Basque cheesecake with its deeply toasted top and creamy interior smothered in a boozy toffee sauce, you won’t miss the classic at all.
- Pumpkin: I roasted red kuri squash for the pumpkin puree but feel free to use canned pumpkin if you want to save time. Red Kuri squash is a Japanese squash with small, red-orange skin without the deep ridges in the sides. It has bright orange fresh with a sweet, nutty flavor perfect for baking. Kabocha is a great alternative to red kuri squash.
- Cream cheese: for the best flavor, go for the full fat cream cheese. Using room temperature cream cheese is essential. Room temp ingredients blend up smoothly so you don’t have a lumpy cheesecake.
Tips for Perfect Cheesecake
- Using room temperature ingredients is essential. Room temp ingredients blend up smoothly so you don’t have a lumpy cheesecake.
- Avoid overbeating the cheesecake. Excessive beating introduces excessive air and results in cracks during baking.
How to Prep the Pan
Line a springform pan with two sheets of parchment paper, ensuring it sticks up at least two inches over the top of the pan’s sides. The pumpkin Basque cheesecake will rise quite high and fall a bit as it bakes. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan with vegetable oil so the papers will stick. Leave the top open so it will have that beautiful burnt look. Place the lined pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
How Long to Bake the Cheesecake
Transfer the baking sheet with pan to the middle rack in the oven. The Basque cheesecake bakes at a higher temperature at 400°F compared to 350°F for traditional cheesecake, giving it a deep golden hue and caramelized flavor. Bake the pumpkin Basque cheesecake until deeply golden brown on top and still very jiggly in the center, about 65-70 minutes.
How Long to Let it Set
Refrigerate the pumpkin Basque cheesecake for 6-8 hours to set. Overnight is even better for the flavor to develop.
How to Make the Toffee Sauce
- To make the toffee sauce, combine butter and light brown sugar in a large frying pan. Cook over medium heat until melted and bubbling.
- Stir in cream and whisk until combined.
- Add in rum and sea salt cook for 15-18 minutes until thickened. The sauce should be thick put pourable. Set aside to cool down.
How to Serve Cheesecake
When ready to serve, bring it to almost room temperature about 1 hour before. When serving it too cold, the Basque cheesecake will lose the characteristic creamy and almost liquid interior. If you prefer it cold, go for it!
What to Serve Cheesecake With
You can serve the pumpkin Basque cheesecake with the toffee sauce by itself. Another option is whipped cream or cream fraiche with the toffee sauce.
Pumpkin Basque Cheesecake
- 1 10-inch springform pan
- 1 red kuri squash, about 1.5-2 pounds, quartered and seeds removed, reserve 2 cups for cheesecake
- 1 ½ pounds cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup rum
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
Roasted Red Kuri Squash
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Brush both sides of the squash slices with olive oil and lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast until the become soft and the edges start to caramelize, about 30 minutes.
- Scrape out the squash flesh, transfer to a food processor, and pulse until smooth. Reserve 2 cups of squash puree. Refrigerate or freeze remaining squash.
- Preheat your oven to 400° F and prepare your 10-inch springform pan. First grease the sides of the pan with unsalted butter, then line it with two sheets of parchment paper. The paper should overlap to form a double thickness. Wrinkle and crease the parchment paper to make it fit into the round pan, which creates the characteristic shape of a Basque cheesecake.
- Beat cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed until very smooth and well combined, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
- Increase speed to medium and add eggs one at a time. Wait 15 seconds before adding each egg.
- Add the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, salt, spices and vanilla extract. Beat at medium-low for another 30 seconds.
- Sift the cornstarch over the pumpkin mixture, then beat at low for about 30 seconds and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Stop beating when the batter is smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 65-70 minutes, until the cheesecake is deep brown on top. Remove from the oven while still a bit jiggly in the middle.
- Let cool completely. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours overnight to let cheesecake set.
- Unmold and carefully peel away parchment from sides of cheesecake. Slice into wedges and serve cold or almost room temperature with toffee sauce. Take it out 60 minutes before serving if you want close to room temp.
- To make the toffee sauce, in a large frying pan, add sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until it starts to bubble.
- Add cream and stir until well blended. Add in rum and salt and cook for 15-18 minutes until thickened and a dark, amber caramel forms.