Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pecan Pie Cheesecake

There are lots of dessert recipes in which the item is stuffed or filled.  The recipes that are more commonly seen are cookies and cupcakes.  However, it is not all that common to have a stuffed cheesecake.

Upon first reading the title of this recipe, I thought that it would be a complicated task. Surprisingly, it was very easy.  The other thing that crossed my mind is how would an already cooked item do being cooked a second time inside a cheesecake?  The only thing I noticed different in the pie inside the cheesecake rather than outside is that it became more compact, but the same flavor remained.

After tasting one slice of this cheesecake, I wished I had been the one to think of this delectable combination!  Velvety vanilla cheesecake with a center of sweet caramel and crunchy pecans...enough said- it does need a place at the top of your "to make" dessert list.

Pecan Pie Cheesecake
adapted from 2002 Southern Living Cookoff Winning Recipes

Ingredients/Candied Pecans
3 cups pecan halves
2/3 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup golden syrup or light corn syrup
6 tbs butter

One 8 or 9 inch pecan pie
1 cup sour cream
3- 8 oz packages of cream cheese
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbs butter (melted)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp cornstarch

For the candied pecans, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with foil and place pecans in a single layer on top.  Toast pecans in oven for about 5-7 minutes. Remove baking sheet and transfer pecans to a heat proof bowl and set foiled baking sheet aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Then brush the foiled baking sheet surface with some melted butter. Add 6 tbs butter, sugar and syrup to a saucepan. Place saucepan over medium low heat.  Stir the mixture until sugar dissolves.  Increase the temperature to medium and let candy simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and mix in pecans till coated.  Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread evenly.  Bake for 5-7 minutes then transfer and spread out on wax paper to cool.

Start on the cheesecake by heating the oven to 350 degrees.  Fill a 9X13 inch pan with 3/4 cup of water. Also, take and chop up enough candied pecans to fill 1/2 cup and 1 tbs.  Place these items aside.

Wrap the bottom and sides of a 10 inch springform pan with foil.  For the graham crust, mix the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and 1/3 cup of sugar together until blended.  Press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up 2 1/2 inches along the interior sides of pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, remaining 1 cup of sugar and vanilla extract on high speed for about 3 minutes or until completely smooth.  Add one egg and beat on low until blended.  Repeat process of beating in the rest of the eggs, one at a time.  Then blend in the sour cream and cornstarch.

Separate out 1 1/2 cups of cream cheese batter and stir in the chopped candied pecans.  Pour this batter into prepared crust.   Take the pecan pie and, if using an 8 inch pie, cut off the top border of the crust.  For a 9 inch pie trim 1/2 inch of the outer edge off.  Cut the pie into 6 pieces and invert each piece on top of the cheesecake batter, (crust side up) in the springform pan.  The pour the rest of the batter into the springform pan, covering the pie. 

Place the 9X13 pan of water on the bottom rack in the oven. Then put the cheesecake pan on the next rack up. Bake until the center of the cheesecake is set.  This should take about 70 minutes.   Once it is baked, turn off oven and leave oven door cracked open about 3-4 inches.  Let cheesecake rest in oven for an hour.

Remove cheesecake from oven and let cool.  Refrigerate overnight.  The next day, warm one cup of candied pecans in the microwave, just so the pecans are pliable and a little sticky.  Place candied pecan halves decoratively around the outer edge of the cheesecake.

Serve cheesecake slices with extra candied pecans. A scoop of whipped cream on top is also an option .

Tips and Notes:

1. To save time you can always purchase a pecan pie.  Usually the purchased ones flip out of their foil pans easily so there is no need to cut the slices to transfer, just flip into the center of the springform pan over the first layer of cream cheese batter.
2. Note that three cups of candied pecans is an abundance.  My pecans remained pliable in the candy coating at room temperature, so there was no need to microwave any to get them to stick to the top of the cheesecake.
3. The cheesecake did not crack, even though the 3/4 cup of water in the pan below evaporated at some time during the baking process.
                              **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Caramel Sandwich Cookies **