THIS IS THE BEST CHEESECAKE IN THE WHOLE WORLD. Seriously, I am proud of this recipe. Smooth, silky, creamy cheesecake custard with sweet potato swirled in, and a tender pecan crust on the bottom. AMAZING. And to think, it all started because I had some sweet potatoes that were starting to sprout and needed to be used. I also conveniently had some cream cheese and sour cream in the fridge that needed to be used up. And the light bulb went off…SWEET POTATO CHEESECAKE! And instead of the usual graham cracker crust (which I don’t like…mostly because I can never find graham crackers that don’t have partially hydrogenated oil), I decided that pecans would go beautifully with the sweet potato. You will notice that I swirl the sweet potato into the cheesecake, as opposed to the sweet potato being totally mixed into the custard, but you could also mix the sweet potato puree directly into the custard if you desire. But I think it’s prettier with the swirls, and it gives a bit of a flavor contrast. Here’s how to make the best cheesecake ever:
Ingredients for the Pecan Crust:
2 cups pecans
4 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp butter, softened
pinch of salt
Ingredients for the Cheesecake:
1 lb sweet potato
1 cup sour cream
16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature (this is REALLY important. Your cheesecake will be clumpy if your cream cheese isn’t soft)
1 cup sugar+3 tbsp sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp amaretto
1/2 tsp cinnamon
small pinch of nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Take the pecans, sugar, salt and vanilla for a spin in the food processor, until the pecans are a bit chopped. Add in the butter and process until it starts riding around the blade a little bit. Be careful not to pulse it into pecan butter.
Dump the pecan mixture into your cake pan or springform pan (whatever you’re making the cheesecake in. I don’t bother with springform pans. I just use a cake pan). Pat it out with your finger tips, and push it up the sides a little bit.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, then let it cool on a wire rack. Turn the oven down to 250 degrees.
Pierce the sweet potato with a fork several times, then microwave for 8 minutes until tender. Scoop out the flesh, then puree it in a food processor. You should have about 1 cup. Set it aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or you can use a hand mixer instead), beat the sour cream for 15 seconds with the paddle attachment to spread it around the bowl really well. Add the cream cheese and sugar, and beat on medium speed until it’s smooth and everything has blended into one homogeneous, well combined mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk to combine the eggs, egg yolks, heavy cream, and amaretto. Pour half of it into the cream cheese mixture, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then add the rest of the cream cheese and beat again, until smooth.
Move 1 cup of the cream cheese mixture to another bowl, and add the sweet potato puree, 3 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and small pinch of nutmeg and mix until combined. If you’re not freaked out by raw egg (fortunately I’m not… only 1 in 20,000 eggs may have salmonella), taste the mixture, since the sweetness of sweet potato varies. If it isn’t sweet enough, add more sugar to your liking.
Spread half of the sweet potato mixture on the bottom, then half of the cream cheese mixture on top of that. Swirl with a spatula. Add the rest of the sweet potato mixture and cream cheese mixture, and swirl again, until you have a beautiful pattern:
Bake at 250 degrees F in a water bath for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, open the door for 1 minute, then shut the door and leave in the oven for 1 more hour. Remove from water bath, and chill in fridge for 6 hours before serving. When slicing, dip your knife into hot water first. ENJOY!!!
Baking method from Alton Brown’s Sour Cream Cheesecake Recipe.