- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter or 1/4 c sunflower oil
- 2 small Hokkaido pumpkins
- 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- zest of 2 large oranges (must be organic)
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)
Place broken graham crackers in a large, sturdy ziplock bag and use a rolling pin to crush. Mix with the melted butter or oil and line the bottom and lower third of the sides of a large spring form pan with the mixture. Tamp down with the bottom of a ramekin. If the crumbs aren't well tamped down, they might come loose and float to the top of the cheesecake during baking. Bake about 5 minutes, until brown and fragrant. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
Cut each pumpkin into about 8 pieces, cutting off any stems or rough spots in the rind, but leaving most of the rind intact. Scoop out the seeds. Brush the insides with olive oil and bake on a baking sheet or pan at 350° for about 30 min. Test every 10 min or so after that until the pieces are soft (you should be able to insert a fork easily).
Mix all of the filling ingredients in a blender or with a hand mixer or handheld blender. Pour into baked crust and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Check to see how it's doing. It will probably need 15-20 minutes longer, depending on various factors. It should be done when the center is firm (it shouldn't jiggle when you shake the pan. You can also try inserting a fork or toothpick in the center to see how clean it comes out, but it won't come out completely clean even when it's done, as this is meant to be a rather moist dessert.
Let cool for at least 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. You can even pop it in the freezer for an hour if it's still warmish at the start of dinner. Served with homemade whipped cream with vanilla sugar or natural vanilla bean icecream.