A fall cake for a summer birthday

I know, its been ages since I last posted. First there were too many things going on and I didn't have time to post, and then an amazing two week vacation in Italy happened. But stop worrying, in case you were worrying, because I am back and I have plenty of recipes to talk about.

Let's start from the beginning. Scott's birthday was on June 5th (almost a month ago). I don't know how it is in your family, but in my family, and in his family, if it's your birthday you get to choose the dinner menu. He chose a bunch of things I am not going to write about now: truffle bacon mac and cheese, fried rice, sweet-sour pork and bl-tomatoes. Three out of the four have bacon in it. The weekend after his birthday we celebrated it with friends and I made a cake that he also chose: bourbon pumpkin cheesecake. This cake is anything but summery. The color, the ingredients and the flavor make the most fall-like cake you can think of. I wanted to make a layer chocolate and raspberry cake, or a blueberry and lemon cake, but if it's your birthday you choose and this is what Scott chose.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2003, via smitten kitchen

For this recipe you need a 9 inch spring form pan. If you don't have one you can use a regular cake pan, but you won't be able to present it so pretty. If you only have a bigger pan, increase the amount of crackers and butter or the crust will be too thin. Everything else can remain the same, but the whole cake will be thinner.

For the crust
3/4 cup (75 g) graham cracker crumbs (from five 4 3/4- by 2 1/4-inch crackers)
1/2 cup (69 g) pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup (35 g) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (45 g) granulated sugar
1/2 stick (60 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling
1 1/2 cups (350 g) canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (70 g) packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
1/2 cup (90 g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 packages (24 oz / 680 g) cream cheese, at room temperature

For the topping:
2 cups (500 g) sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
Pecan halves for garnish

Make crust:
Stir together cracker crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of a buttered 9-inch spring form pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.

Make filling and bake cheesecake: 
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur in a bowl until combined. 

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Make topping:
Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 additional minutes. Arrange pecan halves on top of the cake. Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.