Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Persephone Bakery, a Local Jackson Hole Gem
I first stumbled across Persephone Bakery in Jackson Hole, WY, during the Christmas season of 2015. Like the interior of a snow globe, the town of Jackson was a festive winter wonderland. Snowflakes fell playfully from the sky, ornaments dangled from the store windows, and the antler arches in town square were dressed in twinkling lights. The sidewalks were filled with holiday spirit. And, burr, was it cold, the kind of cold that made your teeth ache.
We were wandering the frosted streets, attempting to finish some last minute gift buying, and my boys were complaining incessantly they couldn’t feel their feet. They needed hot chocolate and they needed it now. I was about to call it a day when, at that moment, the black door of a perfectly picturesque white farmhouse swung open. The scent of warm, crisp, freshly baked buttery croissants danced through the air. Cinnamon, sugar, and pumpkin spice followed. My boys’ eyes lit up like Christmas morning. Without any hesitation, they charged toward the bakery door, knocking each other down in the process.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at Persephone Bakery, and most afternoons since, snuggled up in the cozy corner table, deciding which pastry we’ll indulge in, while dunking our favorite homemade graham crackers into rich hot chocolate.
This holiday season, Persephone’s graham crackers found their way into my kitchen, as I hope they do yours, just in time for holiday baking.
Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
A rustic twist on the classic pumpkin dessert, this festive cheesecake combines the best of holiday flavors with local charm. Homemade Persephone Bakery graham crackers make up the crust and baked crumble topping, while toasted pecans and a pop of bourbon make for a warm, decadent finish. This cheesecake can be made several days ahead, kept covered and chilled.
Persephone Bakery Graham Cracker Pecan Crust
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 heaping cups of Persephone Bakery graham cracker crumbs
½ cup finely chopped, toasted pecans
Make the crust:
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Using one tablespoon of the melted butter, butter the sides and bottom of a 10” springform pan. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs and pecans. Add the remaining butter and mix till evenly combined and moistened. Press the mixture firmly to cover the bottom of the pan and then halfway up the sides. Place the springform pan on a cookie sheet and bake on the center rack for about 8 to 10 minutes, till set and golden brown. Let the crust cool on a wire rack. Reduce your oven temperature to 350°F.
Bourbon Pumpkin Filling
3 8 oz blocks of cream cheese, at room temperature
5 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup good quality bourbon (my favorite is Pendleton)
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground cloves
1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
Make the filling:
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the beaten eggs, dark brown sugar, vanilla scrapings, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix till smooth and fully combined. Slowly stir in the bourbon. Mix till combined. Add the pureed pumpkin. Mix till smooth and combined, scraping down the sides if needed, for about 2 minutes. Pour the batter evenly onto the prepared crust. Bake at 350°F for 60 minutes, till the sides are set and center is slightly jiggly. Keeping the cheesecake in the oven, turn the oven off and let the cake sit for another 60 minutes, leaving the oven door slightly ajar, to allow the cheesecake to set completely. Once cooled and set, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Bourbon Sour Cream Topping
2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
¼ cup good quality bourbon (my favorite is Pendleton)
⅓ cup granulated sugar
Make the topping:
Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, whisk the sour cream, bourbon, and sugar together till smooth. Pour the topping, in an even layer, over the top of the cheesecake. Bake for 10 minutes. Do not let the topping brown, you simply want it to set. Allow the cheesecake to cool on a wire rack.
Baked Graham Cracker Crumble
½ cup of Persephone Bakery graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt
2 tablespoons neutral flavored oil (I use grapeseed oil)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Make the crumble:
Preheat your oven to 300°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together till combined. Add the oil and vanilla. Mix together till clumps form. Spread the mixture onto parchment paper in an even layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes till crisp and golden brown. Allow the crumbles to cool completely. Pile the crumbles generously on top of the cheesecake.