Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pecan Bourbon Cheesecake

It’s hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about what to make for the big feast. I firmly believe that Thanksgiving dinner is the time to go for broke in the calorie department – recipes

from Cooking Light just will not do. (Save them for the next day.) Full fat, over the top, and lots of food, that’s what Thanksgiving dinner should be. For dessert, I favor pies, pumpkin and pecan for sure, and perhaps a lemon meringue for the lemon

lovers in the crowd, but occasionally I like to throw in a slightly non-traditional dessert, such as this Pecan Bourbon Cheesecake. It’s rich, yes, but you only need a sliver, and it will complement your pies very nicely. I use Demerara sugar for

the cake, a slightly crunchy light brown sugar that has a lovely flavor. If you have trouble finding it, feel free to use Turbinado (aka “Sugar in the Raw”) instead.

Pecan Bourbon Cheesecake

Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 12

Pecan Graham Cracker Crust:
1 cup (100 g/3.5 oz) pecans
2 tablespoons (27 g/0.95 oz) Demerara sugar
1 cup (123 g/4.3 oz) graham cracker crumbs (about 8 whole crackers)
5 tablespoons (70 g/2.5 oz) unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:
2 ½ cups (538 g/19 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (200 g/7 oz) Demerara sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons (8 g/0.28 oz) vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon (1.6 g/0.06 oz) salt
2 cups (454 g/1 lb) sour cream, at room temperature

Pecan Topping:
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (71 g/2.5 oz) Demerara sugar
2 tablespoons (40 g/1.4 oz) light corn syrup
1 tablespoon bourbon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (150 g/5.3 oz) pecans

Make the crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Wrap a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the outside of a 9-inch springform pan (this will prevent water from leaking in during baking and making the crust soggy). Coat the bottom of the pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Place the pecans and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until the pecans are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the graham cracker crumbs until blended. Stir in the melted butter until well blended. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the crust is just lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Make the filling:
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until well combined, about 2 minutes longer. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice. Add the vanilla and salt and mix until blended. Add the sour cream and mix just until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir with a rubber spatula to make sure the batter doesn’t have any lumps and is well blended. Scrape the batter over the prepared crust.

Make the topping:
4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until well blended. Whisk in the corn syrup, bourbon, vanilla and salt. Stir in the pecans, tossing them with the mixture until they are evenly coated.

Bake the cake:
5. Place the pan into a roasting pan and gently spoon the Pecan Topping evenly over the cheesecake batter, covering it completely. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan so that it comes about 1 inch up the sides of the foil-wrapped pan and bake until the filling is set and only slightly wobbly, 70 to 80 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the cake cool in the turned-off oven for 1 hour. Remove the pan from the waterbath and cool the cake completely on a wire rack.
4. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight before topping and serving.

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