Set the oven to 325 and spray a 9" springform pan. Crust comes first so it can bake while we work on the filling. The crust is 1 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs and 1 cup Ginger Snap Crumbs. I made them in the food processor, buzzing them around until they were nice and finely ground. To these, add 1 tsp of Cinnamon. Stir thoroughly with a fork to blend well.
Now add 3 Tbs Melted Butter and stir it in with the fork until all is damp. Finally, spread into the pan and firmly press about 2-3" up the sides. If you have a perfectly straight-sided glass it will make the job really easy. Bake for 8 minutes and set aside on a rack to cool. Leave the oven on!
Now, for the filling. Yummmmmm. This is a deep cheesecake so don't be shocked that it takes 2 lbs. of cream cheese. And if you want that filling to be as smooth and creamy as possible without any unblended flecks of cheese, then be sure it's not just room temp but a little warmer than that. Just put all four blocks of cream cheese on a plate and microwave for a full minute and test then maybe another full minute until they're slumping in a bit and soft. Beat this for a few minutes on medium until very smooth before adding the 1-1/2 cups sugar as it continues to mix. Next add 3 Tbs Bourbon and 2 tsp Vanilla. Next the can of Pumpkin (NOT pie filling). Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time. Last of all add the following dry ingredients and beat in well.
In a separate cup, add 1 tsp Ginger and 1-1/2 tsps Cinnamon to 3 Tbs Flour. I use the tiny whisk to give it a quick blend before adding to the mixer bowl. When the filling is completely mixed, carefully pour it into the crust, which is a little delicate even though already baked. Now this is going to baked in a larger pan of water to keep the cracks at bay. We want plenty of moisture in the oven during baking, but we don't want a soggy cheesecake, so layer 3 sheets of aluminum foil under that pan and firmly fold up around the sides to make a protective cake-sock to foil the seeping waterbath. How'd you like that descriptive sentence? Here's a picture to go with your mental image:
The water should come about 1-2" up the sides of the pan. Without the water this cake will crack all the way through in several places. Still tastes good but texture and appearance suffer. Ok, give it a bake, still at 325. It's going to be a long one so don't go off and forget it completely. Set the timer for 1 hr and 45 min. It will be set and ready although not much darker than it is in this picture above.Once again, leave the oven ON. We still have a topping to make. But you're almost home free; it only takes 12 min or so.
Melt 3 Tbs of butter over med heat and add 1/2 cup packed brown sugar. Stir steadily as the sugar melts into the butter. When you begin to see bubbles forming STEP OFF. Don't touch it until it has bubbled briskly for 1 full minute. You can go line a cookie pan with foil while you're doing the countdown. Now you can step back in and cut the heat. Drop in 3/4 cup of Pecans (I like to use salted and roasted pecans) and stir to coat then quickly pour onto the foil lined pan and spread out with a spatula. To become crunchy praline it takes the second heat of the 325 oven.
This part goes quickly so start checking in about 5 minutes. You want to see it bubbling all over and then you can grab it out. It may take 7 or 8 minutes, just watch it! And check it with your nose. If it begins to smell the slightest bit pungent instead of toasty fragrant then take it out of the oven right away even if you don't see bubbles. When it cools break into pieces and arrange artfully, or by the handful, on top of your lovely cake. Soooo much better than pumpkin pie.
THE SHOPPING LIST
1 cup Ginger Snaps Crumbs
1 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
3/4 C Pecans
1/2 C Brown Sugar
7 Tbs Butter (almost a stick)
4 Pkgs Cream Cheese (8 oz each)
15 oz Can Solid Pack Pumpkin
1-1/2 C Sugar
3 Tbs Flour
3 Tbs Bourbon
2 Tsp Vanilla
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