#70 Caramel Apple Pecan Cheesecake

Every Thanksgiving at Allysa’s cousin Polly’s house they used to gather the evening before to do the holiday baking, and every year Allysa was called upon to create a new cheesecake. This is a recent year’s recipe, and it was loved by all.

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RECIPE LINK

I was asked to bake something for a special meeting of foreign language teachers from our school and another nearby expatriate school.

I decided it was time to try my hand at a cheesecake. I had never baked one in my life. Wisdom dictates to do something you’re good at for such occasions and not to try new things. I defied wisdom, once again, and was modestly successful.

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Looks pretty good. Details discussed below.

DETOURS and DISAPPOINTMENTS: Having defied conventional wisdom, I decided to go whole hog – no, I didn’t add pork. “Whole hog” is an expression for “all the way”, but you CAN visualize it. See!?

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DETOUR #1 and a disappointment: The crust. OK. I was in a metrics mood that morning. I was thinking, “In the future I’m not gonna fiddle with tablespoons, sticks, and ounces anymore. It’s gonna be grams and milliliters.” So, like a good scientific baker, I used a pastry recipe for the crust that measured things in grams. I must add, that I didn’t like the flour-butter-brown sugar recipe proposed by Magnolia from the start. I had never heard of such for a cheesecake – and this was gonna be my FIRST cheesecake. Well, anyhooo, it turned out kind of how I’d imagined it – flour-y, close to a regular American pie crust. I will never use this recipe for a cheesecake again. To make matter worse, and to take blame for a crust that nobody wanted to eat, I did NOT do a good job forming the crust in the pan. It was too thick, especially at the edge where the bottom and sides meet.

DETOUR #2 not a disappointment: The filling. It turned out FABULOUS. I’d like to make a new word at this point fusing FLUFFY and FABULOUS, but FLUBULOUS doesn’t work. It was NOT a flub. I also don’t want to coin the word “FLABULOUS” because no one would want to eat the cake thinking of all that flab they would be creating around their tummies. So I’ll just leave it at FLUFFY and FABULOUS. But why? After all, I made a detour from the experts. OK. Here’s the detour – The recipe called for 1 pound of cream cheese. I had 1/2 pound of cream cheese and 1/2 pound of “cream cheese spread”. The spread is the same cheese but fluffed up with air. Well, I ended up with a TALL, FLUFFY cheesecake which is something I’d always wanted to make. Philadelphia Cream Cheese comes in flavored, spreadable forms nowadays that might serve well a number of confectionery creations in your kitchen. So, success on this issue — and it seems to be the issue that most people (including myself) care most about when considering a cheesecake.

DETOUR #3 a little disappointment: The pecans on top. I decided to leave them whole and cover the top of the cake with them. It looked pretty, but I’m not sure I’ll repeat it. Pecans get lost from some bites.

ROASTING PECANS: I also roasted the pecans a little too long this time and they developed a slightly burned taste. Don’t go beyond 10 minutes (even 9 could be smart) for roasting your pecans at 350 F. They continue to cook a little bit after removing them from the oven. Roasting brings out deeper flavors of the nuts, but too much is damaging. Be careful and be glad.

REWARDS OF OBEDIENCE: I want to thank the authors of the Magnolia cookbook for the directions concerning baking the cake. I followed these directions carefully; placed the cake on a cookie sheet to bake, then turned off the oven after an hour and propped open the oven door to leave the cake there to cool very slowly for one hour. The cheesecake that emerged was golden and without any cracks. That brought a smile to this novice baker’s face.

I am glad to end my story with a smile.

I hope you have a smile today too.

After all, this was, in the end, a blessing.

HAVE A SWEET DAY.

#43 Pecan Pear Cake, p. 29

“The cake can also be made with sweet or tart apples and with or without the glaze. You won’t be disappointed with any version.” (p. 29)

RECIPE LINK

Let’s start at the very beginning.

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Oh. Let’s begin again.

But wait !!! Oops. I almost forgot. Here’s the first step to take before working in the kitchen.

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Hit it, Doc!

Now. Chop chop.

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You may notice a can of “Baker’s Joy” resting inside the cake pan. Flour and oil ready to spray on the pan. Now there’s a reason to sing. “Doe, a deer…..”

This cake requires no big equipment to make. No mixer or blender or food processor. Just a whisk, a spoon, and some fancy handiwork.

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Put it all together and pour it in the pan.

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Lookin’ yummy. Chunks of pear and pecans everywhere.

BAKER’S JOY: A few notes on this production. The Baker’s Joy is so nice. Easy to use. The release at the end was perfect. That said, I actually enjoy the pre-industrial technique of adding the flour to the pan myself and bumping the pan all round. It feels like a little work of art each time.

DETOUR: I added more pecans than called for in the recipe. Why? I had a cup full of finely crushed, roasted pecans left over from an earlier recipe. I added that to the 1 cup of coarsely chopped pecans in the recipe. I think the results were lovely. I LOVE pecans and I LOVE the way the cake came out so nutty inside and out. Yes, “out”. The surface of the cake took on a real crunch that I find lovely. I hope those who eat this treat find it likewise so.

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See what I mean?

The finale with the glaze.

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And a couple of slices for the taste test.

DESTINATION?

High School teachers with hall and dining hall duty this week. See Mrs. Beck for details. ALSO and ALWAYS – Blog followers are automatically included in this gift. Just knock on Mrs. Beck’s door – and be nice.

HAVE A SWEET DAY!