December 10

Pistachio Brittle Cheesecake - YUM!


From Mr. Sneddon: "This is one of my favorite cheesecakes to make...it also happens to be one of the most impressive to look at. Enjoy!"

Cheesecake

Crust

  • 1  package Keebler shortbread cookies
  • 1/2 cup natural unsalted pistachios
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
     

Filling and Topping

  • 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup pear nectar
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 pears peeled and pitted, generously dusted with flour/arrowroot powder mix
  • 10 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker's), finely chopped

 

Preparation:

For Crust

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend shortbread, nuts and sugar in processor until nuts are finely ground. Put processed cookie mixture into a bowl and add butter; mix together as you add the butter using a fork until moist clumps form. Press onto bottom and up the sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Wrap outside of pan with foil (I generally prepare the pan with the foil wrapping before putting the crust materials into it). Bake crust until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool crust.
     

For Filling and Topping

  • Beat cream cheese, sugar and cardamom in large bowl until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add 1 cup sour cream, pear nectar, flour and vanilla and beat until blended. Pour 1/3 of the filling over crust. In a large ziplock bag add flour and arrowroot together and add the peeled/pitted pears to the bag and dust them very well.  Place them into the pan with their tops facing the center and then add the remaining filling over the top.
     
  • Bake cheesecake until puffed at edges and softly set in center, about 1 hour 5 minutes or more until it is golden brown on top. Transfer cheesecake to rack; let cool 10 minutes. (I generally leave the cheesecake in the oven with it cracked open for about an hour after running a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan.)
     
  • Meanwhile, stir white chocolate in top of double boiler set over barely simmering water until smooth (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Cool chocolate to lukewarm; whisk in remaining 1 1/4 cups sour cream.
  • Spread topping over warm filling. Refrigerate cake uncovered overnight. Cut around pan sides; release pan sides. Place cake on platter. Stand brittle pieces on edge in topping on cheesecake.

     

Pistachio Brittle

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup natural unsalted pistachios
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • ~1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda


Preparation:

Spray an aluminum foil  covered baking sheet with nonstick spray. Stir sugar, water, corn syrup, salt and baking soda in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil until deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 12-15 minutes.

Stir nuts into caramel and immediately pour onto prepared sheet. Working quickly and carefully (caramel is very hot and hardens fast), press tip of small knife into edges of caramel and gently stretch in all directions to form very thin sheet, approximately 12 by 10 inches. Cool brittle completely.

Break brittle into irregular pieces. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)