Since it’s pumpkin season, I thought I’d hit some of the classics. This is one I’ve made several times and has pretty much become standard issue for my family during the holidays. Sure you can go do a pumpkin cheesecake straight up, or you can do this Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake with a brulee top.
The brulee top is a tweak I added. My family likes the contrast of the creamy cheesecake against the layer of crunchy carmelized sugar. Of course you can skip that and just top it with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. If you do decide to go with the brulee top, make sure that it is done just prior to serving, for maximum crunch. And on that note, to stay ahead, this Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake can be made up to two days in advance and kept loosely covered in the refrigerator.
To brulee the top, hold your kitchen torch two inches above the sugar and move it in a circular motion until the sugar creates a carmelized top. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can use the broiler for two to three minutes—just make sure you keep a watchful eye while so the top doesn’t burn and you may need to rotate it to prevent “spotted” burning.
As for what type of sugar to use to create the brulee top, my preference is for demerara sugar, it has a slight molasses flavor and because the grain is slightly smaller than raw sugar, it melts faster and more evenly. Want to knowhow I know that? Take a look at the picture above, I used raw sugar, and you can see the brulee top is spotty and not even. You can also use granulated sugar, but if you do, I would suggest using a torch and not the broiler, since it takes slightly longer to caramelize and you will have more control with a kitchen torch.