Monday, June 23, 2014

Butterscotch-Pecan Cheesecake

My family and I all love cheesecake!  For many, many years while my husband was serving in the U.S. Air Force, we moved A LOT, and homemade lasagna with cheesecake for dessert was always the first meal served in our new home, wherever those orders brought us.

It's something the entire family, but especially my children, looked forward to. This special dinner told us we were "settled" again, and it gave us peace and grounding, something very much needed when you're a military family. This was our tradition and something we did for more than 23 years. Is it no wonder it's still a family favorite?

In those days the cheesecake I made was a traditional NY-Style Cheesecake recipe I got from my mother-in-law when I was first married. This cheesecake is just a bit different, and models itself after one my son makes, which is an awesome Praline Cheesecake his friends and family all really love.

I, however, was after something just a bit different. I wanted a larger cheesecake I could bake in a 13 x 9-inch pan and simply cut squares from. I didn't want a graham cracker crumb crust or a vanilla wafer crust, so I made a shortbread crust. Oh my word ... yumm!!! Topped with more pecans and drizzled with butterscotch topping, this is a keeper.

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup finely chopped  pecan pieces, 1/2 cup reserved for topping 
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
4 large farm fresh eggs
Butterscotch Sauce
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt (regular or large-flake sea salt)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly spray or grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish; mix all crust ingredients together and press into the bottom of baking dish. Set aside.  

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until fluffy. Stir in sour cream, flour and vanilla, beating until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until just blended. Pour over crust. Bake 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven and cool. Refrigerate 4 hours.

While cheesecake is cooling, make the butterscotch sauce:  Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (not non-stick) over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, salt and heavy cream and stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until it's well blended. Bring the mixture to a boil, scraping down the sides occasionally, and boil it for 4 to 5 minutes. 

Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer the butterscotch sauce to a container to cool. Do not over-boil it as it thickens a lot while cooling and you want sauce, not caramels. 

After the cheesecake has cooled, sprinkle top with 1/2 cup chopped pecan pieces and drizzle with 1/4 cup of the butterscotch sauce. Cut into squares and serve. Reserve remaining butterscotch sauce to serve with the cut cheesecake if desired.



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