Most people would probably disagree, but I think the best part of cheesecake is the crust. I love that graham cracker crumbly deliciousness. The cheesecake part of cheesecake is growing on me, but for many years I considered it an over-rated dessert. Somewhat plain, not quite worth the calories. And frankly, plain old New York cheesecake still doesn’t do much for me.
But smooth, sweet silky maple cheesecake is a whole different story.
Maple syrup screams holiday season to me, and it makes everything feel more festive. We devoured this whole cake at Thanksgiving (which means I still have a ton of leftover pumpkin pie – anyone have any fun ideas for what to do with half a leftover pie?) and I plan to make it again for Christmas. With a subtle maple syrup flavor in the cake, and a more intense punch of maple syrup in the crust, this cake blew away the rest of our dessert spread. It’s smoother than a traditional New York cheesecake, a truly decadent texture. And you know what? You don’t really have to wait for a holiday to make this cheesecake. There is nothing wrong with cheesecake on a Tuesday.
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter
1 1/2 cups maple syrup, divided
24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Candied Cranberries for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, grind the nuts until well chopped, but not a paste. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, nuts, melted butter, and half a cup of maple syrup. Press the mixture evenly into a 10-inch springform pan and wrap the bottom of the pan with two layers of foil to prevent leaks.
Beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sour cream and beat until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla and beat well, scraping down the edges of the bowl. Fold in the remaining cup of maple syrup. Carefully pour the cream cheese mixture into the crust. Bake for 60-70 minutes until golden on top. The cake will not be set, but will set as it cools. Chill the cake overnight before unmolding and serving. Top with a handful of candied cranberries, if desired.