Perfectly Simple Pumpkin Cheesecake
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
7 or 8 whole graham crackers
1 can (15 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin puree
1-1/4 cups plus 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
4 large eggs
3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 carton (16 oz.) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
toasted or candied pecans
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375ºF.
Heat butter and sugar in a saucepan until butter melts. Meanwhile, line the bottom of a 9 x 13-in. baking pan with a 12 x 20" sheet of foil so it hangs over the long sides of the pan (you'll use this as a "handle" to pull the cooked dessert from the pan). Arrange graham crackers over foil-lined pan bottom, cutting the final few with a knife so they'll fit snugly. Pour butter mixture over crackers; spread with knife to cover. Bake until butter-sugar mixture starts to harden, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce temperature to 300ºF
As crust bakes heat pumpkin, 1-1/4 cups brown sugar and spices in a medium pan over medium-high heat until mixture is sputtery hot. Process eggs on high speed in a blender. Transfer pumpkin to a pourable container. With blender running slowly add pumpkin mixture; puree until smooth. Add cream cheese, one block at a time; puree until smooth. Pour mixture over crust; bake until set, about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix sour cream, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and vanilla. Remove cheesecake from oven. Pour sour cream mixture evenly over top; carefully spread so top is completely covered. Return to oven. Bake to set topping, about 5 minutes longer. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.
To serve, run a knife around the pan perimeter to loosen cake. Use foil handles to pull cake from pan. Cut into squares and garnish.