Praline Cheesecake

Saturday, some dear friends came to visit us from California. I wanted to show them how great Southern Food is, I decided to try to cook and bake things that make the south famous. The past few days, we have had Sister Schubert rolls, SS Sausage Wraps, Swiss Steak, Breakfast Taquitos, Triple Chocolate Cake, Fresh Strawberry Pie and the best yet, the Praline Cheesecake. I thought pralines would show them a side of Texas that they had not had the chance to taste yet. Instead of just making pralines, I decided to go a step further and combine them with cheesecake. The result is just great and set the stage for taking them to our favorite Tex-Mex Restaurant. We ended up inviting several couples over to share the evening with us and so we wouldn’t be tempted to have so much cheesecake left over that would have ended up in another 5 lb weight gain for me. Everyone raved about it and two of the hubbies ended up having 2 pieces and one ask if he could take a piece home. It is so creamy and flavorful and made me realize that when I have a craving for a great cheesecake, I don’t have to go to Cheesecake Factory. I just have to go buy 5 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese and lots of whipping cream. Hum…ok, I admit, that now I understand why cheesecake cost a fortune to buy, but…in my defense, it was just so much fun to make and we did end up with a whole cheesecake, not just one piece.

2 cups crushed shortbread cookies

3 tables butter, melted

4 Pralines, crumbled

5 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 tables flour

2 teas vanilla

4 large eggs, room temp

2 egg yolks, room temp

2/3 cup whipping cream

1 cup sour cream

1 teas lemon juice or grated lemon rind

1 ( 8 oz) container sour cream (this is in addition to the 1 cup, which will be used for topping)

1/4 cup sugar

Garnish: pralines

Combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press onto bottom and up sides of a greased 10″ springform pan. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle coarsely crumbled pralines over cooled crust.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with electric mixer until creamy. Ad the 1 3/4 cup sugar, flour, 1 cup of sour cream, vanilla and beat until smooth. Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Stir in whipping cream and lemon rind or juice. Pour into crust. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 on lower oven rack 10 min. Reduce oven temp to 325 and bake 1 hour and 20 min or until almost set. Cool on a wire rack 1 hour.

Stir together the 8 oz container of sour cream and sugar; spread over cheesecake. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack again. Cover and chill 8 hours. Remove sides of pan. Garnish cheesecake with pralines and whipping cream.

Pralines: *It is best to make these on a less humid day as with any homemade candy, humid days do not give you the results you want.

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup half and half

3 tables butter

1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1 teas vanlla

In a non-stick 3 qt saucepan, cook brown sugar and next 3 ingredients over low heat. Stir constantly, until sugars dissolve; stir in pecans. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally 6 to 8 min or until a candy thermometer registers 238 (soft ball stage). Remove from heat.

Stir in vanilla; let stand 3 min. Beat with a wooden spoon 3 min or until mixture begins to thicken. Working rapidly, drop by tablespoons onto wax paper. Let stand until firm. Makes about 1 dozen. You can make the pralines a few days ahead and keep them in an air tight container until you need them. If it is a hot day, keep them in fridge. I tended up keeping some of the praline mixture and heated it in the microwave for about 30 sec and poured it over the cheesecake, then as I served each piece, I topped it with whipped cream and placed a praline in the top of the whipped cream.

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