No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

The last Thursday in November is the most important holiday in the American calendar: Thanksgiving. On the busiest travel weekend of the year in the US, everyone rushes home to sit down with family and enjoy a huge, gut-busting meal, usually followed by sprawling on the sofa in a tryptophan-trance watching a football game.

Not huge football fans, my brother and I used to play chess on Thanksgiving with our Uncle Clifford. Thanksgiving was always at Uncle Cliff and Aunt Karen’s place – she had a double kitchen (the result of knocking two apartments together) that was seemingly custom-made for the task. The feast was obligingly epic in proportions and included the traditional turkey with all the trimmings, followed by pumpkin pie. I think I am the only one of us who never took a liking to pumpkin pie.

After I grew up and moved away from home, I often hosted what I called my ‘Thanksgiving for Orphans’, meaning a dinner for people whose families, like mine, were too far away for them to join. If anyone wanted pumpkin pie at these dinners, they were told to bring it themselves, because I’ve never made one and have no intention of doing so. However, I may have mellowed with age, and I now feel somewhat obligated to offer up something that at least resembles pumpkin pie. So I came up my own version: no-bake pumpkin cheesecake.

I make it with fresh pumpkin, delicately-spiced and not overly-sweetened, and a sharp and citrusy ginger biscuit crust. And it’s no-bake, so it’s dead easy to put together. Which is great, because it leaves me more time to brush up on my chess. Now that my son is a fanatic, I once again have serious competition on my hands!

Chess players may note that he set up the board the wrong way round but hey, he's only 5.


5.0 from 1 reviews
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake
Serves: 8
  • Crust:
  • 1 250g packet ginger biscuits, blended to yield 2 cups fine crumbs
  • Zest of ½ small orange (or tangerine)
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup (60g) butter, melted
  • Filling:
  • 300g light cream cheese, softened
  • 1½ cups peeled, steamed and drained pumpkin (or other sweet squash), blended to yield 1 cup (240 ml) purée
  • ¼ cup (60g) brown sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch allspice
  • Pinch ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (125 ml) double cream
  • Topping:
  • ½ cup (125 ml) double cream
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of ½ small orange/tangerine
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  1. Make the crust by mixing the biscuit crumbs with the zest and butter and pressing into a 10-inch (25cm) pie tin. Chill while you make the filling.
  2. Mix the cream cheese with the pumpkin, sugar and spices until well-blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip the cream with the vanilla into firm peaks, then gently fold into the pumpkin mixture.
  4. Spoon filling into chilled crust, spread evenly and chill overnight.
  5. Just prior to serving, whip the cream and vanilla for your topping and pipe it onto the cheesecake to make a decorative pattern. Sprinkle with lemon and/or orange zest and serve.
1. I have been asked if this tastes much like pumpkin pie and the answer is yes. It tastes enough like the 'real' thing to satisfy traditionalists, but is different enough that I'm happy eating it. It's essentially a fresher, milder and zingier version of what you might be used to. 2. If you are lucky enough to live in a country where 'Speculaas' biscuits are available, use those for the crust instead - amazing. If you can't find them, or ginger biscuits, blend up some gingerbread men, or else use graham crackers and add a pinch of powdered ginger and nutmeg.