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Pecan Butter Tart Cheesecake


Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) cheesecake (Serves 16 to 20)
Prep: 30 Minutes
Cook: 1 hour, plus chilling

This dessert is meant to impress the butter tart fans in your crowd. A full butter tart square recipe forms the base, and a maple and brown sugar cheesecake layer takes it over the top!

Make ahead: You can store the baked but undecorated cheesecake in its pan, well wrapped, in the fridge for up to 4 days. It can be frozen, undecorated and well wrapped, for up to 3 months. Thaw the cake in the fridge overnight before decorating and serving.

WHAT YOU NEED:

Base:

  • 1 recipe Signature Butter Tart Squares (below), made with 1 cup (100 g) pecan halves or pieces and baked in a well-greased 9-inch (23 cm) round springform pan, at room temperature.

Cheesecake Filling:

  • 2 packages (each 8 oz/250 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) lightly toasted pecan pieces

 

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Have the cooled butter tart base at hand in its springform pan.
  2. For the cheesecake filling, beat the cream cheese in a bowl using electric beaters, or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on high speed until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat well on high speed until dissolved, stopping to scrape down the bowl occasionally.
  3. Add the maple syrup and beat again on high speed, scraping the bowl. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat again on high until smooth. This is the final step to ensure there are no lumps in the mixture, so scrape the bowl well.
  4. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs 1 at a time and then the yolk, beating well after each addition (and yes, scraping down the bowl). Stir in the pecan pieces by hand. Pour over the cooled butter tart base.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour, until the cheesecake jiggles in the centre but is set around the outside. (It will still look a little shiny on the surface at the centre.) Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  6. Carefully run a palette knife around the inside edge of the pan (this will prevent cracks developing as the cheesecake cools). Once the cake has cooled to room temperature (check by touching the bottom of the pan, not the sides), chill the cheesecake, uncovered, for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
  7. To serve the cake, run a palette knife around the inside of the pan again and then loosen and remove the springform ring. Run your palette knife under the base of the cheesecake to loosen it from the bottom of the pan. Carefully slide the cake onto a serving plate.
  8. To decorate the cheesecake, you can top it simply with sweetened whipped cream or sweeten it up even more by adding a few pieces of Maple Fudge and Maple Toasted Pecans as a garnish.

 

Signature Butter Tart Squares

Makes one 8-inch (20 cm) square pan or 25 to 36 squares (Serves 16 to 20)
Prep: 15 Minutes
Cook: 45 minutes

A Canadian staple, the butter tart square has earned annual holiday cookie tin status in many households. They are easier to make than individual tarts, yet they retain the sweet maple creaminess we have come to expect from this dessert.

Make ahead: You can store the squares in an airtight container for 3 days at room temperature or for 5 days in the fridge. They can be frozen, but will soften up after thawing. If you must freeze, pack them in a single layer in an airtight container for no more than 1 month to avoid moisture building up. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.

 

WHAT YOU DO:

Base:

  • 1 cup (150 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (100 g) regular rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, melted

Topping:

  • 3/4 cup (150 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) unsalted butter, melted (warm but not hot is fine)
  • 2 teaspoons white or cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (150 g) raisins or pecan pieces (optional)

 

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with parchment paper.
  2. For the base, stir the flour, oats and brown sugar by hand in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and stir together until the mixture is rough and crumbly (like a fruit crisp topping).
  3. Press into the bottom of the pan, bake for 12 minutes to set (it will not brown) and then let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Leave the oven on. While the base is cooling, prepare the topping.
  4. For the topping, whisk the brown sugar, maple syrup and eggs together until combined. Whisk in the melted butter followed by the vinegar, vanilla and salt.
  5. Sprinkle the raisins (or pecans) (if using) in an even layer over the bottom of the base and carefully pour the maple syrup mixture over top (you can move the raisins or pecans around to realign them, if required).
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping bubbles just around the edges and is set when the pan is gently jiggled. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

Note: To prevent the top fluid layer from seeping around the edges and underneath the base of your tart, press the crumbly base gently up into the edges of the pan, so there is a little lip before pouring. Resist packing the base in too firmly, otherwise it can shrink away from the edges after baking, creating a gap for the filling to leak underneath. This tip can also be applied to any square with a fluid filling, such as a lemon square.