Pecan cheesecake is a dessert that combines the flavors of cheesecake and sweetened, roasted pecans. This type of dessert may be prepared at home or purchased in a local bakery. It is commonly enjoyed during the fall months of the year, and is frequently associated in the US with the Thanksgiving holiday, and around the world with the Christmas holiday.
One version of this dessert combines traditional cheesecake with pecan pie. The cheesecake batter may be blended together using softened cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. This batter is poured into a prepared dough pie crust or a graham cracker crumble crust. The batter is then topped with chopped pecans and pecan pie filling, made from corn syrup, eggs, and sugar. The pie is baked in a hot oven for up to one hour and should be chilled prior to serving.
Variations on this recipe call for the pecan pie layer to be baked underneath the cheesecake filling layer. The layer of pecan pie in these types of recipes, is typically prepared first in a sauce pan over a hot stove top. The chopped pecans are stirred into the corn syrup, sugar, and eggs and allowed to simmer for several minutes, before being poured into the pie crust of choice. The cheesecake filling layer is prepared last, and may be lighter in consistency than standard cheesecake batters. Once all ingredients have been blended, this batter is poured over the caramelized pecans and baked in a hot oven for up to one hour before refrigerating.
The cheesecake batters used in pecan cheesecake recipes may be altered and flavored to suit the taste preferences of the chef. Pumpkin is a popular food item to add to pecan cheesecake, which blends well with the existing flavors of cream cheese and sweetened pecans. Pureed pumpkin or pumpkin butter is mixed into the cheesecake filling layer prior to pouring it into the pie crust. This addition may be made whether placing the filling over or under the pecan pie layer.
Pecan extract may be added directly to cheesecake batter to create pecan cheesecake flavor, without including the nuts. This type of dessert alteration may be preferred by those who enjoy the flavor, but not the texture, of nuts, or who may have food allergies. Any favorite cheesecake recipe may be used with this one ingredient added. To create a caramelized type of spread for the top of the cheesecake, the chef can melt confectioner's sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat, and blend it together with butter and additional vanilla or pecan extracts. This topping should be poured over the cheesecake immediately and allowed to harden prior to serving.