This A.M. I am relaxing and having a slice of pumpkin cheesecake with my coffee. Ahh, what a nice way to start to my day off. I love pumpkin and enjoy making all sorts of wonderful recipes with it in the fall. But I didn't plan on making a pumpkin cheesecake this year. I was uninterested, been there done that. Until Steve and I went to the Olive Garden for lunch. We had the soup, salad and bread sticks lunch and I felt like I didn't pig out too bad. I felt like I deserved a dessert, it was the weekend after all. On their new seasonal menu is a pumpkin cheesecake, which I decided to give a shot. After a moment or two our waitress brought out a large slice of the pumpkin cheese cake that had a whipped cream topping, caramel drizzled all over and gingerbread snaps sprinkled on top. The consistency was perfect and the cheesecake wasn't too rich or too sweet, as cheesecake can sometimes be. I was very impressed and Olive Garden's cheesecake got me inspired to dig out my recipe, tweak it a bit with a caramel topping... and share it with you.

I hope you enjoy my savory pumpkin cheesecake with a cinnamon gingersnap crust, homemade whipped cream and caramel sauce. Thanks to Olive Garden for the inspiration!

The first slice came out perfect.

4 whole cinnamon graham crackers
1 cup crushed gingersnap cookies
1 cup lightly toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted

3 8 oz packages of softened cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs at room temp
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lite sour cream
1 can pumpkin

Whipped Cream Topping
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce (Store bought is fine, but homemade is better! See recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350

In a food processor place the graham crackers, gingersnaps, walnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar and process until fine. With the processor running add the butter through the feed hole and process until the mixture comes together. Spray the bottoms and sides of your 9 inch spring-form pan (as an added measure to help get your pie out later, I like to line the bottom with parchment paper). Pat the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

Place cream cheese in large bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add both sugars and beat again until it is incorporated and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and mix until just incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in vanilla, spice and cinnamon. Next mix in salt and sour cream. Finally add the can of pumpkin.

Pour the mixture into your pan with the prepared crust. Bake for about 1 hour. The sides should be slightly puffed and lightly browned and the center will still slightly jiggle. Take the cheesecake out and let cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove from spring-form pan. 
Place the whisk and bowl of your stand mixer in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before making whipped cream. Combine all ingredients in bowl and whip for about 1 minute on medium-low speed until the mixture gets foamy. Whip for another 3-6 minutes on high until soft peaks form. Pipe or spread homemade whipped cream on top. Slice and drizzle caramel sauce (recipe for homemade below) on each piece.

The crust in the works.

After your cheesecake has been refrigerated it is easier to remove the springform pan.

Love love love homemade whipped cream topping

Ready for the caramel sauce!

 My pumpkin cheesecake on the left and my inspiration, Olive Garden's pumpkin cheese cake on the right.

Homemade Caramel Sauce from Barefeet in the Kitchen

1 cup sugar
1/4 water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of kosher salt

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and the water. Stir to combine and then cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves; about 4-5 minutes. There is no need to stir, simply swirl the pan over the burner occasionally as the sugar dissolves.

Raise the heat to medium high and cook the sauce, swirling the pan occasionally, until it is amber colored; about 7-8 minutes. Add the butter, be prepared for it to bubble and sputter, lightly stir or swirl to melt, do not scrape the sides of the pan or splash sauce up the sides of the pan. (This will cause crystallization, if you scrape the uncooked sugars back into the sauce.)

Once the butter is melted, remove from the heat and add the vanilla, heavy cream and salt. It will bubble again, but will calm quickly. Stir to combine (again, not scraping sides of the pan) and then let cool before transferring to a jar and refrigerating for storage.