Extraordinary cheesecake? The Brandy make this recipe so much better. I only use fresh pumpkin in my recipes. In the Fall I purchase several pie (small) pumpkins. All I do is clean, peel and cube then steam them until cooked through. Once cooled, I freeze them in 1 & 2 cup amounts. This way I always have fresh on hand.
Heat oven to 325°F. Grease 9-inch springform pan with shortening.
Prepare the Crust: In small bowl, mix cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and the melted butter. Press crumb mixture in bottom of pan. Wrap foil around outside of pan to prevent drips. Bake crust 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 5 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate about 5 minutes or until completely cooled.
Prepare the Filling: In another small bowl, mix flour, pumpkin pie spice, brandy and pumpkin; set aside.
In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in brown sugar and 2/3 cup granulated sugar until smooth. On low speed, beat in 1 egg at a time just until blended. Gradually beat in pumpkin mixture until smooth.
Pour filling over crust. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes or until set but center of cheesecake still jiggles slightly when moved. Turn oven off; open oven door at least 4 inches. Let cheesecake remain in oven 30 minutes.
Run knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan on wire rack 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight before serving.
To Serve: Run knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake. Carefully remove side of pan before cutting cheesecake. Store covered in refrigerator.
Tip #1: To help prevent cracks in the cheesecake, don't over beat the cream cheese mixture once the eggs are added. Also, cook the cake in a water bath.
Tip #2: Use ground ginger snap, Amaretti, or chocolate wafer cookies for the crust instead of graham crackers.
Topping Idea #1: Amaretto...1 Cup Whipping Cream; 1 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar; 1 Tbsp. Amaretto or 1/8 Tsp. Almond Extract; Toasted Sliced Almonds. Directions: Beat whipping cream, powdered sugar and amaretto with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Spread over the top of cooled cheesecake. Sprinkle with almonds.
Topping Idea #2: Turtle... 1/2 Cup Pecans, Toasted & Chopped; 2 Oz. Bittersweet Baking Chocolate, Coarsely Chopped; 1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil; 1 Cup Caramel Topping. Directions: Just before serving, sprinkle pecans over top of cheesecake. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate and oil uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted. Drizzle chocolate and caramel over pecans.