Pumpkin cheesecake with dulce de leche and toasted coconut is the perfect addition to your fall dessert menu.
Other than the recipes I learned at home, the first real published recipe I ever learned to prepare was in the 7th grade. It was in home economics class and the recipe was for a baked cheesecake. It required a few simple ingredients and was easy enough to recreate at home. Since then, I have used that basic recipe to prepare cheesecake with various ingredients. My absolute favorite way to eat it is plain with fresh pineapple on top and nothing else. For this recipe, I gave it a fall theme with some pumpkin pie puree, pumpkin pie spice and extra cinnamon. And if that was not enough, a homemade crust prepared with Maria cookie wafers, topped with toasted coconut and dulce de leche! The finished cheesecake was extra creamy and not overly sweet. This recipe can be made year-round since it uses canned puree, but it will become a regular on your fall holiday dessert menu.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Add the crushed Maria cookies to a bowl. Add 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/3 teaspoon pumpkin spice. Stir well to combine and transfer a 9-inch springform pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Use your hands to push crumbs down and slightly up the sides of pan. Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven. Remove and set aside.
In the blender, add cream cheese, condensed milk, vanilla and 2 eggs. Blend until smooth and pour out 1/4 cup into a small bowl. To the mixture remaining in the blender, add the pumpkin puree, remaining pumpkin spice and cinnamon. Blend until smooth. Pour into prepared cookie crust in springform pan. Drizzle in the reserved cheesecake batter and use a knife to swirl in. Reduce heat on oven to 300ºF. Transfer the cheesecake in the pan to a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour to 1½ hours. Remove when center becomes firm and knife comes out mostly clean. Let cool slightly, then chill in refrigerator overnight.
Before serving, remove cheesecake from refrigerator and let sit for 20 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the sides of cake before unlocking and releasing the springform pan. You can serve it as is and let everyone add their own toppings if you prefer. If adding the toppings, warm the dulce de leche for a few seconds to soften. Drizzle over top of cake and sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes.
I prefer using an unsweetened flaked coconut instead of the sweetened shredded variety. The natural sweetness and coconut flavor are delicious, and when toasted, it really brings out more of the flavors.