Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Pecan Gingersnap Crust and Halloween Rants

So what are you going to be for Halloween? I'm planning on dressing up as a Happy Hour Lover. What's that, you ask? Well, I'm going to dress up in my finest normal clothes and go out to happy hour on Halloween and avoid the havoc that trick-or-treaters wreak on our neighborhood every year. 

I'm all for cute little kids dressing up and saying "trick-or-treat" and taking a piece of candy or two. But when did it become OK for 13-yr-olds (going on 18) to put a little "scary" makeup on and call that a costume? When did it become OK to traipse around my neighborhood, cutting through people's yards, at 9pm demanding candy? And WHEN did it become OK for their PARENTS to drive along a neighborhood where they clearly do not live, clogging up the roads with their minivans and almost running over the small children who do live there, just to improve the efficiency of their teenagers's candy-stealing process?

One can only assume that the parents are going through a serious Snickers or Mary Jane withdrawal at the time. On that note - WHY do Mary Jane's still exist?

New rule, when you're old enough to wear a bra, it's time to stop trick-or-treating. Stop ruining Halloween. 

I guess I'm becoming crotchety in my old age. Humph.

Anyway... this cheesecake. The only thing that would make this cheesecake any better would be candy corn. Lots of candy corn, arranged on top of the cheesecake like a candy corn picket fence. Or maybe that would be gross. You decide.

And if you are a crust person, well, this crust is magnificent. It's sweet and a little savory from the gingersnaps, and it satisfies that Trader Joe's cookie butter craving I get sometimes, and it definitely stands up to the cheesecake. I can't stand a measly little crust on my cheesecake. You need something strong and delicious to complement your cake, and that's exactly what this pecan gingersnap crust does. The crust says, "Oh, I just love your shoes". Pa ha ha ha. 

I may have had too much candy corn, please forgive me.


For the cheesecake:
1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookies
1 cup pecans, ground
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 packages cream cheese (I used half fat free)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups canned pure pumpkin
Hot water
For the  chocolate sauce: (optional)
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (1 1/3 cups)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Prepare the cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Combine the gingersnap crumbs, ground pecans and melted butter in a bowl. Press into the bottom of a 12-inch spring-form pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Once cooled, wrap the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil and place in a baking dish or deep-dish baking sheet. 

In a food processor or blender, mix the cream cheese until smooth. Add the brown sugar and process until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, processing until fully incorporated, then blend in the sour cream. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add the pumpkin and blend until smooth.

Pour the filling over the crust. Carefully add hot (almost boiling) water to the baking dish until the water covers half-way up the spring-form pan. Bake for hour, 15 minutes, or until the cheesecake is just set. Turn the oven off and open the door to let the hot air escape. Close the door and let the cheesecake sit in the warm oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. Then refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Use a knife to loosen the cake from the side of the pan; this will prevent it from splitting down the center. Let cool completely before slicing.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate sauce, if desired:  For the chocolate sauce, combine the half-and-half and butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, but do not boil. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool.