Holiday spin on classic dessert

Dec 5, 2022Neesha Hosein
Holiday cheesecake

This holiday season, San Jacinto College culinary arts instructor Melissa Menendez has put a seasonal twist on a classic dessert.

After a friend shared a sopapilla cheesecake recipe, Menendez, like any good chef, fine-tuned the ingredients.

"I tweaked the recipe to my taste, added pumpkin, and — voila! — a holiday tradition was born," Menendez said.

The special recipe isn't one she teaches to her students, but if they ask for a personal recommendation, this is one she gladly shares.

Helpful tips

Menendez prefers serving the cheesecake warm, but it can also be chilled before serving. Here are her tips:

  • Let the cheesecake come to room temperature before slicing.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut portions.
  • Use a cake spatula to serve.
  • For those who like a little extra pizzazz, delicious add-ons include ice cream, whipped cream, or fruit.


Holiday Pumpkin Sopapilla Cheesecake


3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cans crescent roll dough

12 ounces canned pumpkin*


1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon

1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)

Honey, as needed, for final topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Beat the cream cheese, pumpkin, vanilla, and first measurement of sugar with a hand mixer or stand mixer paddle until well incorporated.
  3. Unroll the crescent dough and use a rolling pin to gently roll out each piece into a 9x13 rectangle. Use one can for the top and one can for the bottom.
  4. Press one piece into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes until partially cooked. Remove from oven and let cool briefly.
  5. Continue assembling the cheesecake: Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the pan and bottom crust. Cover the cream cheese with the remaining piece of crescent dough.
  6. Stir together the topping ingredients and spread over the top layer of dough.
  7. Bake about 40-45 minutes or until the top layer of dough has puffed and turned golden brown. Remove from the oven. While it's still hot, drizzle with honey.
  8. Serve warm or cold. I think it's best baked and served the same day. Happy baking!

*Baker's note: You can eliminate the pumpkin and make a plain version. Reduce the sugar in the main ingredients by 1/4 cup.

Categorized As