Homemade Hipster: Pumpkin Ghost Cheesecake

Enjoy this creamy creation this Halloween season

April Wang, Staff Writer



  • 1½ cup finely crushed graham crackers
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar 
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon and/or ginger


  • 32 oz cream cheese
  • ½  cup brown sugar + 1 cup white sugar 
  • ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream (exchangeable with sour cream or plain greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp ginger
  • ⅝ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cloves


  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F, and grease a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan.
  2. Crust: Melt the butter. Mix the crushed graham crackers, cinnamon, butter, and sugar together in a bowl until combined. Press the mixture into the pan so that it’s lining the bottom and sides evenly. This will serve as the cheesecake crust.
  3. Prebake the crust for 10 minutes.
  4. Filling: Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy and smooth. It’s best to use an electric mixer here in order to incorporate air and make sure the mixture becomes fluffy. Add in sour cream and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  5. Add one egg at a time, beating just until combined.
  6. Separate 3 cups of the batter into a large bowl, and add the pumpkin and remaining spices (i.e. cinnamon, allspice, ginger, etc.), mixing until combined and smooth.
  7. Add the pumpkin batter into the pan first, and then spoon the lighter batter on top into the shape of a ghost. If decorating isn’t for you, alternate putting in spoonfuls of each batter and swirl it all together at the end for an easy and pretty swirl.
  8. Preparing a water bath: the steam from a water bath helps ensure that the cheesecake cooks evenly through and rises without cracking. To make a water bath, fill a large pan with hot water and place the cheesecake pan into the hot water pan. They will go in the oven together. You can also place the pan of hot water underneath the cheesecake pan in the oven instead if that’s easier. 
  9. Bake the cheesecake for 60–70 minutes. When putting the cheesecake in the oven, make sure to put it on a rack in the middle of the oven, so that it’s not too close to the heat source in the oven. 
  10. When the time is up, the cheesecake should still be a little jiggly in the middle. Leave the cheesecake to cool for an hour in the turned-off oven with the oven door open. Then take it out and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours, if not overnight.
  11. Run a knife around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen it, then take it out and enjoy!



  • DO NOT OVERMIX YOUR BATTER. When you beat with an electric mixer, you’re incorporating air into the batter. A little air is fine, but too much can cause cracks to appear in the cheesecake as the extra air rises in the oven. 
  • Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. This will ensure that ingredients combine smoothly and you won’t need to mix longer than necessary and risk overmixing.
  • Unless it’s an emergency (i.e. your cheesecake is somehow exploding or burning or going crazy in some other way), don’t open the oven door to check on it until the baking time is up. The temperature needs to be as even and constant as possible.
  • Don’t skip refrigeration. The texture might not be right when it’s fresh out of the oven, but it’ll mature and firm up as it cools. However, don’t rush it into the fridge either, because sudden coldness on a hot cheesecake will make it contract and possibly crack.
  • Cheesecake is a bit more complicated than most desserts, but it’s not as ominous as it might sound on paper. So long as you measure accurately and follow directions, it’s a pretty easy prep. Even if you do mess up, it’s hard to make the end result actually taste bad; it might turn out to be a different texture or consistency than expected, but that doesn’t mean it’s not edible or won’t taste good. Enjoy the process! And if you mess up, embrace the chaos!