This cheesecake is time-consuming, meticulous, but absolute heaven.
Cheesecakes will always hold a special place in the culinary chamber of my heart because although they are not among my favorite foods to eat, they are one of my favorite foods to make. Depending on the flavors and chosen mix-ins, they can be super simple or overly complicated, and my cooking hobby tends to favor foods that fall in the overly complicated spectrum.
My recent holiday trip back home to Atlanta has been so fun and relaxing, but I had to spice up (get it?) my time here by tackling this browned butter pecan cheesecake recipe. On day two of my trip I was pumped up with the spontaneous energy that only comes about when one begins their vacation, and I was itching to do a kitchen workout in the form of this cheesecake.
This cheesecake is my everything for a few reasons: first, the browned butter. By now you may have picked up that browned butter is one of my favorite ingredients for baking, because it adds a fatty richness that deepens the flavor of anything that you add it to. And the toasted pecans in the recipe are so delicious that you can eat them by itself. There were a few times that I caught my mom sneaking away a few pinches of these toasted pecans. They would be super delicious sprinkled on top of yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, and of course – cheesecake!
Browned Butter Cheesecake Tips
- Make sure all of your prepared base ingredients – graham cracker crust, toasted pecans, and browned butter, are completely cool before using in this recipe.
- The cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs all need to be room temperature. You can do this by setting the materials out the night before you plan to make your cheesecake. You can speed up the process in the microwave (for the cheeses), but you risk accidentally melting them or having an uneven heat distribution. Setting them out the night before is best.
- Prepare your springform pan for the water bath by wrapping it in double layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent leakage.
- Pour your batter into the springform pan before placing in the water bath. The light pan will float otherwise, and you don’t want to accidentally have water flood the crust when you pour in the batter.
- 1 1/2 cups (247g) finely chopped pecans
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar, loosely packed
- 2 tbsp (28g) Challenge salted butter, melted
- 6 tbsp (84g) butter
- 24 ounces (678g) Challenge cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (104g) sugar
- 3/4 cup (108g) light brown sugar. loosely packed
- 3 tbsp (24g) all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (173g) sour cream, room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup toasted pecans (above)
- 2 ¼ cups (302g) graham cracker crumbs
- ½ cup (112g) Challenge salted butter, melted
- 3 tbsp (39g) sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy whipping cream, cold
- 1/2 cup (58g) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Caramel Sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Combine the melted butter, pecans and brown sugar in a medium sized bowl and toss to coat.
- Spread the pecans evenly onto the cookie sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until toasted.
- Set pecans aside to cool.
- To make the browned butter for the cheesecake filling, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. It’s best to use a light colored pan so that you can see the butter browning. Whisk the butter occasionally so that it cooks evenly.
- Cook the butter until it turns a nice toasty brown. It will foam up at first, but it will eventually subside and you’ll have browned butter. Some of the brown bits may separate, but that’s ok. Once the butter has browned, pour it into a heat-proof bowl and set it aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides.
- Combine the crust ingredients in a small bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- Cover the outsides of the pan with plastic wrap and aluminum foil so that water from the water bath cannot get in. Set prepared pan aside.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300°F (148°C).
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugars and flour on low speed until well completely combined and smooth. Be sure to use low speed to reduce the amount of air added to the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and browned butter and mix on low speed until well combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly to combine after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
- Stir in 1 cup of the toasted pecans.
- Pour the cheesecake batter evenly into the crust.
- Place the springform pan inside another larger pan. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top edge of the aluminum foil on the springform pan.
- Bake for 1 hour 5 minutes. The center should be set, but still jiggly.
- Turn off the oven and leave the door closed for 30 minutes. The cheesecake will continue to cook, but slowly begin to cool as well.
- Crack the door of the oven for 30 minutes to allow the cheesecake to continue to cool slowly. This process helps prevent cracking.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath wrapping and refrigerate until firm, 5-6 hours or overnight.
- To finish off the cheesecake, make the whipped cream. Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon to a large mixer bowl. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Pipe swirls of whipped cream onto the cheesecake and finish off with the remaining toasted pecans. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top each slice with caramel sauce.