We take cheesecake very seriously in our family. There are many prerequisites to the perfect cheesecake – it must not be too sweet, it should have a light, fluffy texture and the crust is always just as important as the cake itself. So needless to say, cheesecake is a must have Thanksgiving menu item but this year, I wanted to change things up a bit by adding a fall inspired twist. “Twist” as in a pecan crust laced with pumpkin pie spices and a salty bourbon caramel sauce.

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And did I mention it’s gluten free? Read on . . .

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Preheat your oven to325°. Place pecans in a food processor and pulse until it’s fine. Add brown sugar, salt, melted butter, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice (because it’s fall!) and mix until the mixture begins falling off sides of bowl.

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Empty the mixture into a 10″ non stick spring form pan and pack it down evenly with your fingers or the bottom of glass jar. Bake for 20 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

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Meanwhile, combine cream cheese, creme fraiche, sugar and butter into a stand mixer. Combine with a paddle attachment and then add the egg yolks, one at a time until combined.

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In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture. Then pour it over the pecan crust.

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Cover the bottom and sides of the spring form pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. 12″ wide foil works best to avoid gaps. Place the pan into a roasting pan and fill with hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pan. Bake at 325° for an hour and a half.

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Once it’s finished baking, turn the oven off and crack the oven door to allow the cake to cool in the oven for 40 minutes. This will help prevent the cake from sinking and cracking. Run a thin paring knife around the edge of the pan so that when it cools, it won’t stick to the edge and crack. The cake might feel soft and jiggly but that’s okay. It will set in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 4-6 hours.

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Now for the caramel sauce! Dissolve the sugar and water over medium heat. Add a stick of salted butter to the dissolved sugar and allow it to come to a boil over medium high heat. Wait until it turns a golden brown color before taking it off the heat. Immediately add the heavy cream and whisk the mixture together.

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Place it back on the heat, let it come to another boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes until it reduces. Add bourbon and allow to reduce for another 5 minutes until the consistency is nice and creamy. Pour into a jar and store until you’re ready to pour it over your cheesecake. And yes, you are allowed to sneak a few spoonfuls in the meantime. It’s that good.

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Allow the cheesecake to warm up to room temperature before removing the spring form. Gently transfer the cake to a cake stand or platter. If the crust is having a hard time budging, you can blast the bottom of the pan with a hair dryer to help loosen it.

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Pour the caramel sauce over the cake.

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Slice and give thanks to this cake!

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PECAN CRUSTED CHEESECAKE WITH SALTED BOURBON CARAMEL

 

Ingredients for crust:

  • 2 cups whole pecans
  • 3 tsp melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp water

Ingredients for cheesecake:

  • 24 oz softened cream cheesed
  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 2 tbs sifted cornstarch

Ingredients for caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
Directions:
  • preheat oven to 325°
  • grind pecans in food processor until fine
  • add melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla and water and continue processing until mixture begins falling off sides of bowl
  • press into the bottom of a 10″ non stick spring form pan
  • bake for 20 minutes until golden brown
  • allow to cool completely before wrapping the bottom and sides with heavy duty aluminum foil
  • whip softened cream cheese, butter, creme fraiche, sugar and cornstarch in stand mixer until combined
  • add egg yolks one at a time while mixing
  • in a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff
  • fold egg whites into cream cheese mixture
  • pour mixture over the pecan crust
  • bake at 325° for 1 1/2 hours
  • turn off oven and crack door open and allow cake to cool for 40 minutes
  • refrigerate for at least 4 – 6 hours
  • combine sugar and water in small pot over medium high heat
  • once dissolved add butter and allow it boil until it becomes a golden brown color
  • remove from heat and add heavy cream
  • whisk together and reheat to a slow boil
  • reduce over low heat for 10 minutes
  • add bourbon and reduce for another 5 minutes until creamy
  • store in jar until your ready to pour over your cake

(images by HonestlyYUM)