saffron and cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

Saffron and Cardamom (inside of a) Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Disclaimer: There is no pumpkin in the actual cheesecake – it’s just serving as a vessel here… a delicious, delicious vessel.

A long, long, long time ago (4 years ago, maybe?), my cousin sent me this “crustless” “pumpkin pie” recipe by no recipes. I’ve held on to it for this entire time and finally decided to take a crack at it this weekend – putting an FMITK spin on it, of course.

This is a great gluten-free cheesecake option. The filling is so flavorful that you don’t miss the crust at all – but I did miss the “crunch” of the crust. I missed the texture that comes along with crust. I resolved this by adding a little sprinkle sprinkle of sugar and brulee’ing the top of each wedge. It fulfills the texture issue and gives that satisfying “creme brulee busting through your sugar wall with a spoon” crunch.

And it’s easy. This is SO EASY. A lot easier than I anticipated actually.

Scrape the pumpkin.
Make the filling.
Fill pumpkin with filling.

Let’s get this cheesecake party started.

saffron cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

This recipe is enough for two sugar pumpkins. You’ll need: vanilla extract, eggs, sugar pumpkins, saffron, lemon juice, cardamom, cream cheese and sugar.


saffron cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

Thoroughly wash the pumpkin, remove the top and scrape out the seeds. (BTW, totally save those seeds and roasted them)

saffron and cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

Place 1/2″ water in a large pot with a steamer basket. Check to make sure the pumpkin fits with the pot’s lid on (don’t worry about the pumpkin lid, that can be set next to the pumpkin while cooking).

saffron cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

Beat together sugar and softened cream cheese. Softened just means leave them out at room temp for an hour or so, so it’s easier to beat.

saffron cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

Add in ground cardamom and saffron threads soaked in hot water.

saffron cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

Spoon the cheesecake filling into the pumpkin.

saffron cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

Leave about 1/2″ of space at the top of the pumpkin to give the cheesecake room the expand as it bakes.


Cover the pumpkin with foil (to keep all the moisture out of the cheesecake itself) and place in the pot fitted with a steamer basket. Put the pumpkin lid next to it. Bake at 350F for ~50 minutes, until cheesecake is set and middle is barely jiggly.

saffron cardamom pumpkin cheesecake



Just a perfectly happy little sugar pumpkin filled with cheesecake deliciousness! Let this cool to room temperature before chilling for at least 3 hours to set.

saffron and cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

I know you want to eat it now. I know it’s tempting, even tho hot cheesecake is probably gross. Just wait. Let it chillllllll.

saffron and cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

After chilling, cut into wedges for serving. Look how pretty that is!

Now… we could just leave it alone and eat it like this, but you know I always have to try to make things just a TIIIINY bit more special.

saffron and cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

Break out the brulee torch!! Sprinkle a little bit of sugar over the wedge of cheesecake and fire it up! You know how I feel about burnt sugar!

saffron and cardamom pumpkin cheesecake

I mean… come on.

Saffron and Cardamom (inside of a) Pumpkin Cheesecake

makes 2 sugar pumpkins filled with cheesecake (about 8 servings) in 1hr 10 mins
adapted from no recipes

2 small sugar pumpkins (sometimes called “pumpkin pie pumpkins”)
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp saffron threads, soaked in 1 tsp hot water


prep the pumpkins

Wash the outside of the sugar pumpkins,  then cut a round hole in the top around the stem. Lift the “lid” off and use a spoon to scrape all the seeds and stringy stuff from the inside surface of the pumpkin and lid.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill the bottom of a large oven-safe pot with about 1/2″ of water and place a steamer basket at the bottom. Put the pumpkin on top of the steamer basket and make sure the pot lid will still fit (don’t worry about the top to the pumpkin, you can cook it on the side).

prep the cheesecake filling

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.  Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat in eggs, one at a time, at low speed until just combined. Add in cardamom and saffron (along with the 1 tsp of water it was soaking in) and mix thoroughly.

Fill each pumpkin with enough filling so that there is a 1/2″ of room at the top.  Cover the pumpkin with foil (to prevent moisture from getting into the cheesecake) and place the pumpkin lid next to it inside of the pot (fitted with steamer basket and 1/2″ water).  Put the pot in the oven and cook for ~50 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set on the outside and almost set in the middle (a little jiggly is okay).  A knife inserted should come out clean. Also make sure the pumpkin is thoroughly cooked (a knife inserted into the thickest part of the flesh should be easily inserted and removed).

Remove from oven and remove the pot lid and let cool enough to handle. Remove from the pot and let cool to room temperature, then chill for a few hours to set.

Slice into wedges for serving.

Optional, yet delicious, step: Sprinkle a bit of sugar on top of each wedge and brulee!


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8 replies
  1. A
    A says:

    Hi: When you bake the pumpkin, do you leave the lid of the pot on? Or is it just the pumpkin with a foil “lid” in the oven?
    (Looks amazing, and very creative!!)


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  1. […] is a variation on a previous recipe: Saffron and Cardamom (inside of a) Pumpkin Cheesecake Here’s what’s been updated for this version: the filling 2 8-oz packages of cream […]

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