This Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake + Pecan Crust is the ultimate dessert that comes inspired by The Cheesecake Factory's original Pumpkin Cheesecake. A buttery pecan-graham cracker crust, creamy pumpkin + warm spices cheesecake filling, and a drool-worthy homemade caramel sauce makes the perfect combination of textures and flavors. A true family staple!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links via Amazon for products that I wholeheartedly love.
Have you ever The Cheesecake Factory's Pumpkin Cheesecake that they used to sell exclusively at select Starbuck's locations? Believe it or not, that used to be my husband and I's tradition----to visit Starbucks in Brooklyn on the weekends, enjoy a good book together, and enjoy a nice slice within Starbucks. We actually did that for a few years. Well, this Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake + Pecan Crust is a true twist to our memories and I thoroughly enjoy it.
Back to this pumpkin cheesecake-----the best part about it is the combination crust made from both toasted pecans and Graham Crackers which is a beautiful battle between sweet and nutty flavors. Of course, the filling is velvety, soft, fluffy, and light. Definitely melts-in-your-mouth.
Plus, the bold pumpkin + warm spice flavors adds a nice touch for a sweet treat after a great meal. This one is sure to be a crowd-pleaser! Besides, I have a nice Biscoff cookie twist version with this Pumpkin Cheesecake with Biscoff Cookies, which is so good too.
Why You’ll Love This Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake
Two desserts in one! Regular cheesecake and pumpkin spice worlds collide, creating a creamy, decadent dessert.
A change up from the classic cheesecake world. (While we still love a good New York Style Cheesecake or classic flavor, the pumpkin spice twist is so underrated!
Gooey caramel atop (Need I say more?)
Great to make ahead of time. This is the perfect Thanksgiving dessert recipe because it can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
Family-friendly (Well, everyone in my family seems to love it, Haha. Plus they can all join in making it!)
How To Make Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake + Pecan Crust
This Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake + Pecan Crust has three main components: the crust, filling, and caramel sauce as the topping. Here's what you'll need for the crust + filling:
Cream cheese. Make sure your cream cheese is fully softened to room temperature for easy blending.
Pumpkin. I use 100% organic pumpkin puree in the can, NOT pie filling. There's a difference!
Cane sugar. Again, organic is best here. This adds sweetness to the filling.
Graham crackers. Use 12-14 cracker sheets for this recipe.
Toasted pecans. you can use more pecans if you like, just reduce the amount of graham crackers accordingly so you have 3 cups total. See the recipe notes for how to toast your pecans. Toasting the nuts is important to bring out their deep, rich flavor.
Brown sugar. Again, organic is best here. This is for the crust.
Cinnamon. For a hint of warmth to compliment the pecans.
Butter. Choose unsalted and make sure your butter is melted so it can bind the nuts and crackers together for the crust.
Homemade Caramel Sauce to Decorate Pumpkin Cheesecake
The final step in this recipe is a dreamy and luxe homemade caramel sauce.
Heavy whipping cream
A pinch of sea salt
Instructions + Notes
Making caramel is like a fun science experiment. It does require close attention to the stove, however, as caramel can go from solid sugar to burnt in no time. I recommend using low heat once your brown sugar is well melted. And when you add the cold cream, be prepared for some splattering. If you have young helpers in the kitchen, have them stand away from the stove for this step.
This silky smooth caramel sauce should cool for about 20 minutes on the counter, then in the fridge for at least an hour before you decorate your pumpkin cheesecake with it.
To decorate this masterpiece, pour the sauce over the cheesecake. I like to place the cake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to catch any drips. The caramel sauce should spread out into a smooth, glossy layer. You can add whipped cream and a sprinkle of toasted pecans on top for a nice garnish and a bit more texture if you'd like.
How To Store Leftover Caramel Sauce
Leftover caramel sauce can be stored in a tightly sealed mason jar for up to two weeks. When ready to use, simply reheat sauce in the microwave at 15 second intervals until softened and at room temp.
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Blend
One of the essential elements of this Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake + Pecan Crustis the actual pumpkin spice blend. It is very simple to make, plus, you can make a larger batch and save some for additional baking or drinks!
That's it! This delicious blend is perfect for lattes, cookies, cakes, pies, pudding, or all things pumpkin.
How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree
If you're thinking about making your own pumpkin puree instead of using a store-bought canned version, then you'll be happy to know that it is rather simple:
Step 1: Cut your pumpkins in half and scoop out the seeds. Be sure to save the seeds for another time because you can definitely use those!
Step 2: Feel free to cube the pumpkins into medium-large chunks and then place them unto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. NOTE: ensure that the skin of pumpkin are peeled off at this point.
Step 3: Always season your pumpkin pieces (salt, black pepper, + smoked paprika) and lightly grease with olive oil until coated.
Step 4: Roast in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40-45 minutes or until the edges are golden and they become super tender once tested with a fork or knife.
Step 5: Using a food processor or blender, puree your pumpkin along with water or veggie stock, until smooth. You can either use this immediately in whatever pumpkin recipe you'd like, store it in the freezer for later use.
SHOP MY FAVORITE TOOLS FOR COOKING, ESPECIALLY FOR THIS CHEESECAKE!
I have a few tricks to prevent cracks in a cheesecake:
I recommend placing a pot or baking dish of water in the oven when the cheesecake cooks. The steam evaporates and helps the custard cook evenly all the way through. Otherwise, if your cooking environment is too dry, the edges may cook quickly and dry out before the center cooks through, which can cause cracking.
After the cheesecake is done baking, turn the oven off and leave the cake inside for five minutes with the door halfway open.
Then remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for up to 15 minutes on a wire rack.
When it's fully cooled out of the cake pan, wrap the cake with plastic wrap and let it set in the fridge. If you have time, the cheesecake will have the best texture if it chills in the fridge overnight.
How To Make Your Own Whipped Cream
If you'd like to add an extra layer of deliciousness to this Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake by dolloping a bit of whipped cream on top---no worries! While you do have the option of purchasing store-bought whipped cream, here's how you make your own easily in a stand-mixer:
Chill your bowl. Before you begin, be sure to add the bowl of your mixer to the freezer for about 10 minutes so that it's greatly chilled. This helps the ingredients to whip faster and with best results.
Whip the ingredients. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip 2 cups of organic heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla, using the whisk attachment for 4-5 minutes. At some point, fluffy peaks should begin to form. Stop mixing, scoop the whipped cream into a jar or sealed container and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
How To Store Leftover Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake
Leftover Cheesecake can be stored (tightly wrapped) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For best results, keep cheesecake in the freezer until the night before you’re ready to serve. Defrost by refrigerating.
Can I Turn This Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake into Cheesecake Bites?
Absolutely! Simply prepare TWO cupcake pans with liners and make the crust and filling per usual. If you turn this recipe into cheesecake bites, you’ll make about 2 dozen bites.
Other Recipes You'll Love
If you're a fan of this amazing Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake + Pecan Crust, check out these other holiday favorites!
Whipped Cream, homemade or store-bought(See Post for info!)
Toasted Pecans(See Notes!)
TO MAKE THE CRUST:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 7 or 8-inch springform cheesecake pan by lightly greasing it with butter or oil spray.
Grind the Graham crackers and pecans, until almost finely ground (it’s OK to leave a few medium chunks, if your’e a lover a little crunch!). Combine the Graham cracker-pecan mixture, cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter in a small bowl and mix with a spatula until well incorporated.
Add the mixture into the prepared pan and press down into the bottom with your fingers (focusing on the middle) to ensure that it’s perfectly covering the bottom and sides (like a deep well).
Bake the crust for about 5 minutes and then remove from oven and allow it to cool until you’re ready to use.
CHEESECAKE + FILLING:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together on low speed: the cream cheese, cane sugar, and flour until combined. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl if needed.
Next, add the vanilla extract and the first egg and beat slowly until mostly combined. Then add the remaining egg and mix until well combined, still mixing everything on low speed. Now, add the sour cream, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, and salt and continue mixing.
Change mixer attachment to a whisk and beat on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes or so until completely smooth and lump-free. NOTE: DO NOT OVER-MIX. Be sure to stop once the batter becomes smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan until ¾ filled. NOTE: Leaving a bit of room at the top prevents the cheesecake from spilling over while baking.
Bake the cheesecake for 35-40 minutes, then turn off the oven and allow it to sit in the oven for another 5 minutes with the oven door halfway open to avoid the cheesecake from deflating. NOTE: When baking, I always prepare a medium pot with water and add it to the oven as well, to keep cheesecake temperature even and to add moisture.
Remove cheesecake from the oven and allow it to continue to cool for another 30 minutes, before putting it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
TO MAKE THE CARAMEL SAUCE:
Heat the brown sugar in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and stir constantly using a rubber spatula until clumps are formed. Add butter and continue to stir until everything has melted and become a dark 'amber-like' color. Continue to stir consistently until fully melted and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes.
Now, slowly whisk in the heavy cream and continue stirring until well incorporated and sauce has fully thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before using. Set aside.
Once the cheesecake has cooled, top with caramel sauce, whipped cream, and toasted pecans, and enjoy.
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Leftover Cheesecake can be stored (tightly wrapped) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For best results, keep cheesecake in the freezer until the night before you’re ready to serve. Defrost by refrigerating.
CHEESECAKE BITES: If you turn this recipe into cheesecake bites, you’ll make about 2 dozen bites.
TOASTED PECANS: Add chopped pecans to a baking sheet and toasting them in the oven (400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 5-10 minutes, tossing them halfway to avoid browning on one side.
STORAGE (CARAMEL SAUCE): Leftover caramel sauce can be stored in a tightly sealed mason jar for up to two weeks. When ready to use, simply reheat sauce in the microwave at 15 second intervals until softened and at room temp.