Monday, September 26, 2011

Praline Cheesecake with Bittersweet Ganache

Catagory: Desserts
Difficulty Rating: Hard

This is a very intense, decadent cheesecake. If you like the richer cheesecakes at "The Cheesecake Factory" such as, "Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake", you will like this. Because it is cooked in a water-bath, the cheesecake filling itself is especially creamy. It was fun to make the praline, although I need to warn you about a few things. If you start to find little burned nuts floating in your praline filling, take it off the stove immediately and turn down the heat . I managed to get so many in mine, that by the time the praline caramel was done, I had to strain the darn things out! I was even talking to it, saying "no no no!" to the little dark varmints as they popped up from the bottom of the pan. In hindsight, I think it would be a good idea to: 1)not even put the nutz in until after the praline has cooked, and 2) not to scrape the pan while cooking. Also, if you are daunted by the length of this recipe, simplify it by substituting a graham cracker crust. I did!

Important Note: I made a "baby" cheesecake for Mr. Smith with some leftover cheesecake filling, graham crumbs and put some ganache on top. I liked it even better than the richer version below! So try skipping the praline entirely if you're not used to eating sweets.


Either one Graham cracker crust for a 9-inch springform pan or--
1 1/2 C vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 finely chopped pretzels
1/2 C finely chopped toasted pecans
1/3 C unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg white

Pecan Praline Filling:
1 C sugar
3/4 C chopped pecans
1/4 C toasted chopped pecans (I was too lazy to toast mine)
2/3 C dark corn syrup
1/3 C unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 t salt

Cheesecake Filling:
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 C sour cream
1 1/4 C firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used light--it's fine)
2 T flour
4 large eggs
1/3 C heavy whipping cream
1 C sour cream
1 1/4 C firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 T all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1/3 C heavy whipping cream
1 t vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make a graham cracker crust mixture and follow the directions at the end of this paragraph. OR in a medium bowl, combine vanilla-wafer crumbs, pretzels, and pecans for crust. Add melted butter and egg white, stirring to combine. Make sure your springform pan's bottom is tightly secured to the ring of the pan before proceeding. Press crumb mixture evenly into bottom and up sides at least halfway of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 6 minutes, let cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Wrap bottom of pan with 2 pieces of foil, being sure to secure all sides completely to form a waterproof seal for the pan. (I even duck-taped the edges of the foil together.) Place prepared springform into a large (roasting?) pan or soup pot. Set aside.

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt for filling, stirring well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, 8-10 minutes. Add pecans and stir. Pour into cooled, prepared crust. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese for filling at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add sour cream, beat until smooth. Add brown sugar and flour, beating until fluffy. add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in cream and vanilla. Pour cheesecake mixture over pecan-praline filling. Fill roasting pan or soup pot with enough water to come halfway up sides of springform pan.

Bake one hour and 15 minutes, or until middle no longer jiggles when you move the springform pan and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Carefully remove rotating pan from oven. Allow water in roasting pan to cool before removing cheesecake. Let cheesecake cool for 1 hour at room temperature. Refrigerate cheesecake overnight. Run a sharp knife around the edges of cheesecake to release sides. Remove from springform pan. Place chocolate for ganache in a small bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat cream, butter and corn syrup over midium hight heat until mixture boils. Pour chocolate mixture over top of cheesecake. Use a spatula to spread evenly. Let chocolate set, approximately 30 minutes. Garnish with pecan halves, glazed or plain. Worth the 2 1/2 hours it takes to make for a special occasion.

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