I always aim to have one no-bake dessert for the holidays to free up my oven schedule. This easy cheesecake combines the familiar spice of pumpkin pie with the light creaminess of cheesecake. No one will guess that this isn't a traditional baked cheesecake!
For the crust: Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
Combine the cookie crumbs, pecans, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until fine. (Alternatively, you can crush the cookies very finely in a resealable gallon-size bag and chop the nuts as finely as possible; combine them in a bowl with the sugar and salt.) Add the melted butter and vanilla and pulse until evenly moistened. Press the mixture about 2 inches up the sides of the springform pan, then press to cover the bottom evenly. Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
For the filling: Pour 3 tablespoons cold water into a small microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Set aside to bloom.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and beat 1 minute. Beat in the pumpkin puree and vanilla, blending about 30 seconds.
Place the bloomed gelatin in the microwave and microwave until the gelatin melts and the mixture is clear, 10 to 12 seconds. Stir a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture into the hot gelatin, then add the gelatin mixture to the mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until combined, about 15 seconds.
Mix in the heavy cream on low speed until combined. Scrape the bowl, then whip at high speed for about 1 minute. Spread over the prepared crust. Smooth the top of the cream, as desired. Refrigerate, uncovered, 8 hours to overnight (or top with a plate, domed-side up, so it doesn't touch the surface of the cheesecake).
For finishing: Unlatch and remove the sides of the springform pan. Before serving, sprinkle the edges of the cheesecake with the pecans and chocolate chips.
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