When I first found this recipe on-line (myrecipes.com), I knew immediately that I had to make it. It was too bizarre not to try! A pecan pie inside of a cheesecake? I thought of Turducken, the duck inside of a turkey. This concept seemed equally strange, yet had the potential to blow other Thanksgiving dessert options out of the water. Mind you, I had already decided to make my husband’s favorite Pumpkin Cheesecake, so charting a new course for Thanksgiving filled me with trepidation. The Pumpkin Cheesecake, from an ancient Bon Appetit magazine, had long been a Thanksgiving mainstay. However, I described the Pecan Pie Cheesecake to my husband and he was as intrigued as I was. I promised to make him a Pumpkin Cheesecake for Christmas if he was disappointed. Actually, I lied. I have already decided what I’m going to make for Christmas and it’s not Pumpkin Cheesecake. Pumpkin is something I prefer to leave behind once the Christmas festivities kick into full gear. That meant the stakes were high
What blew my mind was the notion of pieces of pecan pie, laid on their sides, and covered with cheesecake batter. What would happen to the pie crust? Would there be recognizable bites of pie crust in the cheesecake? Would the crust be transmogrified by the magic cheesecake batter into something new and strange? It seemed as though witchcraft might be involved. I had to find out.
Here are the ingredients:
One fully cooked pecan pie. (I purchased a frozen pie and thawed it out the day before I made the cheesecake. Another option is to buy one from a bakery.)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
½ cup half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon flour
19 pecan halves (I did not count – I may have used more than 19)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut the pecan pie into twenty small wedges. Caveat: this is not easy to do. Pecan Pie was not meant to be cut into tiny, tiny wedges.
Stir together graham cracker crumbs and next three ingredients. Press into a 10 inch springform pan, covering the bottom and going up the sides about 1 ½ inches.
Arrange ten pieces of the pecan pie wedges in a spoke design on the crust, placing each wedge cut side down with the narrow end towards the center. If you feel tempted to cry, as I did when I first read these instructions, don’t worry. I’m including a picture.
Beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add sour cream, half and half, and vanilla; beat until blended. Fold in confectioner’s sugar and flour.
Carefully pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over the pecan pie wedges in the pan, making sure they remain in place. Decorate with the pecan halves around the edges and in the center.
Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for one hour. Carefully remove to a wire rack and cool completely. Chill at least 8 hours before serving.
That all sound very straightforward, doesn’t it? Well, I took a little detour into screw-up land by cutting the wedges too big. I found it very difficult to cut each half of the pecan pie into 10 wedges and decided 8 would have to do. I arranged them on the crust bottom as instructed and hoped all would be well. However, when I poured the batter in the pan, I had little wedges of crust sticking up out of the batter. It looked like tiny sharks swimming in a creamy sea. The pie wedges were just a little too thick. Where possible, I just poked the crust under the batter and covered it with a pecan half. A couple of the bigger pieces I carefully broke off before putting the cake in the oven. Word to the wise: If you end up needing to cut the pecan pie into more than 10 pieces per side, break off the top edge of the crust before pouring the batter into the pan.
Despite that one issue, the cheesecake turned out perfectly. It was a huge hit at the Thanksgiving Dinner and everyone loved it. My husband now wants Pumpkin Cheesecake AND Pecan Pie Cheesecake at Thanksgiving (fat chance).
To answer the intriguing question of what became of the pecan pie crust, it somehow melted lusciously into the cheesecake, never to be seen or heard from again. Oops, I hope I haven’t spoiled the mystery, but it really has to be tasted to be believed. Try it for Christmas and create a little holiday magic of your own.