Saturday, September 17, 2011

Makers Mark Pecan Cheesecake

If there is one thing I know how to bake it is a cheesecake. I worked as a dessert chef at a restaurant that was known for its cheesecakes. I was trained well and now like to experiment with and modify the numerous cheesecakes options out there...They are endless and so are my ideas...I love to bake with bourbon and have used it in caramels, cookies and now it is time to put it in a cheesecake. I looked at a lot of recipes online and found one at that I used for my inspiration.

Yields 1 9" Cheesecake

Ingredients for the crust
9 whole graham crackers
2 tbs white sugar
4 tbs pecans
4 tbs butter, melted

Ingredients for the ganache
2 tbs heavy cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Ingredients for the filling
12 oz cream cheese (1.5 packages) softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbs Makers Mark (or your favorite bourbon)
1 tbs vanilla extract

Ingredients for the topping
2 eggs
4 tsp white sugar
4 tsp brown sugar
4 tsp corn syrup
1 tbs Makers Mark
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
chopped pecans (about 1/2 cups but you can use more or less)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare your 9" spring form pan as follows: wrap the bottom and sides in tin foil to ensure no moisture gets into the pans seam while baking. Spray your pan with a vegetable oil spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment or waxed paper.

The Crust: Combine all dry ingredients into your food processor and process until everything is combined into a fine crumb. Place into a small mixing bowl and combine with your melted butter. Once the mixture is evenly combined dump into the bottom of your spring form pan. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan and about half way up the sides. Place into oven and bake for 7 minutes. Then remove and set aside.

The Ganache: Combine chocolate chips and heavy cream into a sauce pan and cook on low. Stir the entire time until the chocolate is melted and is smooth. Once the ganache is ready pour immediately onto the bottom of the crust, and spread carefully if needed.

The Filling: On medium speed combine your cream cheese and sugar for a few minutes. Stop and scrape the sides, and then beat some more. You want this to be as smooth as possible with no lumps. Next add your cream and eggs. Beat, scrape, beat, scrape. Finally add your bourbon and vanilla and beat again. If the mixture looks smooth with no lumps then it is ready. Pour the batter into the spring form covering both the crust and ganache.

The Topping: Sprinkle your pecans onto the top of the unbaked cheesecake. Combine all topping ingredients (eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, corn syrup, salt, vanilla, and bourbon) and pour over the pecans. Your cheesecake is now ready for the oven.

Before going into the oven

Place onto a baking sheet that will allow you to surround the spring form in a water bath. Place the sheet in the oven, then pour the water onto the baking sheet, so its not hard to move from the counter to the oven. Set your timer for 25 minutes and then check the water level. If more water is needed add it, if not leave it alone. The water helps to maintain moisture in the oven and in your cheesecake.

After checking the water set your time for 20 minutes. Once it goes off check it every 5 minutes thereafter until is is ready to come out of the oven. You will know its set when you move the pan and the cheesecake wobbles slightly and the edges seem browned. At this point you can take it out of the oven to cool. Let it cool for several hours until removing the spring form. You may need to use a sharp knife to loosen the top edge before removing the side of the pan.

Once the sides are removed place into your fridge to cool over night. The next day you will need to remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment paper before serving. I find the best way to do this is to heat the bottom of the spring form pan over an open flame briefly. I then place a cutting board or plate on the top of the cheesecake and then flip it over, exposing the bottom of the pan and the parchment. Remove both, and then place your serving plate onto the bottom of the cheesecake and flip over carefully. Trust me this is not for the fainthearted, but I have done it dozens of times and have yet to drop, crack, or break a cheesecake. They are firm and can handle a little movement once cooled.

This is now ready to slice and serve. A trick I use from my baking days is to place a large knife into a pitcher of hot water. Dip the knife into the bowl and wipe with each cut for a smooth and professional appearance with each piece you plate.

Ready to serve

Ready to serve

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