Recipe Makeover Day – Pecan Praline Cheesecake

Yesterday I tried Life Love and Sugar’s recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake.  It was great!  What I liked the most about it was how the cinnamon and brown sugar filling caramelized, almost into little cinnamon pralines.  So this morning, I decided, why not?  I’ve got brown sugar, I’ve got pecans…let’s do a makeover!

I used the same basic crust and cheesecake recipe as before (Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake), but omitted all cinnamon.  I added 1-1/4 cups (because that’s the amount that was in the bag) of chopped pecans, that I chopped further.  Instead of melting the butter for the crumble, I just softened it, and that made it easier to work with.  Instead of plain vanilla, I used vanilla nut flavoring (it’s right there with the other flavorings – McCormick makes it.  It’s really good.  Makes a killer butter pecan cake).  So:

pecan-praline-cheesecake-crustFor the crust:

  • 1-1/2 cups crushed Nilla Wafers
  • 4 Tbsp regular sugar
  • 5 Tbsp softened butter
  • mix by hand, press into bottom and a little ways up the side of a 9″ springform pan (I put parchment paper in mine) and bake at 325 for 10 minutes.  Take out to rest, and wrap pan in foil.  DECREASE THE OVEN TEMP NOW to 300 degrees.

For the filling:

  • 3 large blocks of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of regular sugar
  • 3 Tbsp plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla or vanilla nut
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • mix the sugar and cream cheese on low.  Add in the flour and continue.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl after each.  Add vanilla/vanilla nut and sour cream to complete – mix on low just until combined.  Don’t overmix or mix on high – you’ll add air that you don’t want.

For the crumble:

  • 1-1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (or whatever comes in a small bag.  Make it easy on y’self).
  • 2  cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • stop here – mix all that by hand.  Now add
  • 12 Tbsp softened butter
  • Now, get your hands in there and mix that up.  When you get it combined STOP.  Don’t keep handling it – the warmth of your hands will melt the butter and make it harder to crumble.

To combine, separate the crumble into 1/4’s.  Crumble 1 quarter around on the crust.  Pour and spread on 1/3 of the filling batter.  Repeat, ending with crumble on the top.  So, your layers from the bottom will be crust, crumble, filling, crumble, filling, crumble, filling, crumble.

pecan-praline-cheesecake-in-water-bathSame water bath, same baking method, same everything, but I did omit the topping.  It just didn’t seem necessary, and I didn’t want the extra sweetness to take away from the body and fatty nutty goodness the pecans added.  TIP:  use the long sized aluminum foil to wrap your pan.  That way, you don’t have to worry about water seeping into seams that you have to make if you use the shorter size.

Now, when you take this out of the water bath, set it on the counter for a few minutes.  Then, remove the foil.  DON’T PANIC.  That stuff in the foil?  That’s butter.  Yep, butter that has slipped through the cracks and escaped.  It’s okay.  Just put a few paper towels on a piece of foil to rest your cheesecake on in the fridge while it cools.

Share this praline goodness with your family and friends (or don’t, but hide so they can’t find you).  Some coffee or milk and you’re all set.  I hope you enjoy!

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