Butter pecan is one of those flavors that instantly transports me back to an 8 year old girl sitting with her daddy in the summertime gorging herself on a gigantic bowl of velvety ice cream. My dad's favorite flavor to this day, and for good reason. Smooth, nutty, buttery goodness - so rich and decadent. And while I wouldn't consider it my all time favorite flavor, it does remind me of home and comfort and love. It's incredible the extreme role that food plays in our lives. Reminding us of times long past. Grandma's apple pie or mom's mashed potatoes...there's something about those home cooked traditions, no matter how simple, that fill our bellies and our hearts with goodness.
This cheesecake is incredible. Rich and luxurious; bursting with flavor! The texture is velvety and smooth and would be perfectly accompanied by a buttery caramel sauce - but I didn't let myself get too out of control. This cake is a beast! And a serious splurge. Be sure to make it for company and not just yourself. I will take NO responsibility for the 8 lb weight gain should you accidentally devour it in it's entirety. It needs to set overnight for best results. I know it's nearly impossible, trust me. But it will produce the texture and consistency it deserves. So bake it, try and completely fill and occupy all of your waking moments until you slumber, and then remove it the next day for breakfast. Errrrr, I mean...you should probably wait until dessert. But there will be no judgey eyes coming from this direction should you fail :)
Maple butter pecan cheesecake
1.5 cups (~ 1 sleeve) graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1-1/3 cups sugar
1 (16oz) container sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon organic maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Reserved graham cracker crumbs
Optional for serving: chopped glazed/regular pecans, caramel sauce
Crush graham crackers and finely chop pecans in whatever fashion you desire (a food processor comes in handy here - toss 'em in and pulse 'em up). In a large bowl combine the cracker crumbs, pecans, sugar and butter; set aside 1/3 cup for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of a greased 9 inch springform pan.
Place springform pan on a double layer of heavy-duty foil. Securely wrap foil around pan ensuring there are no openings or tears.
In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla, maple syrup and butter. Add eggs; beat on very low speed until just combined. Fold in pecans to incorporate.
Pour filling into crust and sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Place springform pan in a large baking pan with high sides. Add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan to create a water bath - this will ensure even cooking and prevent cracking.
Bake at 325° for 80-90 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove springform pan from water bath and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Once slightly cooled, carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen but do not remove the sides. Cool 1 hour longer and then refrigerate overnight.
To serve, remove sides and slice :) This dessert will feed a crowd - approximately 16 servings!