12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups gram cracker crumbs
2 3/4 cups sugar
2 lbs. cream cheese (4 8-oz. blocks), room temperature
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
6 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1. Position rack in oven to the center and preheat to 325F.
2. Melt the butter (I just pop the butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 40 seconds or until just melted).
3. Brush a little bit of the butter on the bottom of a 10" springform pan, then top it with a round of parchment paper (you can buy these pre-cut or just cut your own) - the butter on the bottom of the pan will help the paper to stick. Next, brush the top of the parchment and sides of the pan with enough butter to just coat.
4. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the remaining melted butter, and a pinch of salt. Stir together with a fork until combined.
5. Pour the graham cracker mix into the springform pan, pressing the crumb mixture evenly and firmly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
6. Place the pan in the oven and bake 15-20 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a rack.
7. In the meantime, bring a large kettle or pot of water to a boil. Keep the oven temperature at 325F.
8. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat until just light, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, spices and 1 tsp. salt. Beat until the mixture is just combined (do not overbeat). Use a spatula to scrape up any of the cream cheese from the bottom of the bowl that didn't get mixed in, and gently fold into the mixture.
9. Wrap the springform pan with the cooled crust tightly and securely on the outside with heavy duty aluminum foil (I usually use a couple sheets for extra security). The foil will prevent water from the water bath from leaking into the springform pan during baking. Pour the filling mixture into the cooled crust then place into the center of a large roasting/baking pan. Pour the hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
10. Gently push the rack back into the oven, then bake the cheesecake for about 1 1/2 hours to 1 hour 45 minutes or until the outside of the cheesecake is set, but the center still slightly jiggly. Turn the heat off and open the oven door briefly to let out some of the heat. Close the oven door and leave the cheesecake inside for another hour.
11. Remove the cheesecake to a rack and let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and/or foil and refrigerate the cheesecake at least 8 hours or overnight.
12. Take the cheesecake out of the frig to room temp 30 minutes before serving. Slice and serve with sweetened whipped cream and a sprinkling of chopped toasted pecans.