Anyone who’s ever travelled through the American South has most likely stumbled upon an amorphous blob of creamy, fudgy praline. Heat butter, brown sugar and cream (sometimes buttermilk) until thick, fold in pecan halves and spoon blobs on to parchment for cooling. That’s all there is to it. As if they weren’t rich enough, we figured why not whip up a simple cheesecake base upon which to rest a praline. For this we like to use our Spiced Pecans, but most traditional Southern pralines use plain pecan halves.
|For the crust:|
|4oz / 115g / ½ cup||unsalted butter, softened|
|6oz / 175g / ¾ cup||granulated sugar|
|6 tbsp||all-purpose or plain flour|
|9oz / 250g / 1½ cups||pecans, finely chopped|
|For the cheesecake:|
|32oz / 900g / about 8 cups||cream cheese, softened|
|12oz / 340g / 1½ cups, packed||light brown sugar|
|½ tsp||kosher salt|
|4||large eggs, at room temperature|
|2 tsp||vanilla extract|
|10oz / 275g / 1¼ cups||sour cream|
|For the praline top:|
|2oz / 60g / ¼ cup||unsalted butter, softened|
|2fl oz / 60ml / ¼ cup||heavy or double cream|
|8oz / 225g / 1 cup, packed||light or dark brown sugar|
|6oz / 175g / 1 cup||pecan halves|
|A pinch||of kosher salt|
You will need a round cheesecake pan with a removable bottom, 9 x 3in/23 x 8cm, or a 9in/23cm diameter springform pan. You will also need an electric mixer.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Butter a round cheesecake pan with a removable bottom, 9 x 3in/23 x 8cm. Wrap the bottom and partly up the sides with foil. Or use a 9in/23cm diameter springform pan.
For the crust, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir. This can also be done in an electric mixer on low speed. Unlike other nut crusts, we like this one to have chunkier bits rather than processing everything into meal. Press the mixture into the prepared pan and partially up the sides. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until light, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and salt and mix for another 4 minutes or so. Next add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and stir in the sour cream. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until set. The cake usually rises evenly and cracks around the edges. Cover loosely with foil if it appears to be browning too quickly. The middle will no doubt appear to wiggle, but trust that it is done. It should wiggle as one piece, not be sloshing under the surface. Leave to cool completely in the pan.
For the topping, combine all the ingredients except the pecans in a small saucepan over low heat. Stirring continuously, heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, stir in the pecans, then do your best to pour the mixture over the cheesecake. You may need to nudge the nuts a little to get them into place. They don’t always cooperate when poured. Let the praline cool to room temperature before chilling until ready to serve.