Saturday, December 25, 2010

Maple Sweet Potato Cheesecake ~ Happy Thanksgiving!

Sweet Potato Maple Cheesecake with gingerbread crust and marshmallow sour cream topping. - YUM!

I'm a little behind on blogging - today is Christmas day and this cake was made for Thanksgiving. I'm not entirely at fault - sister had the camera with all the pictures.

If you're from the South its a safe bet that you've had sweet potato casserole - maybe with candied pecans but most likely with toasted marshmallows. I'd like for you to meet the latest and greatest: Sweet Potato Maple Cheesecake! Don't like the idea of a potato cheesecake? Yeah, its a little strange but it is delicious!

For the first time ever I was in charge of desserts for the holidays. Request included: something chocolate, something cheesecake, something diet-friendly, something that has nothing to do with diet food.... So to keep it simple and stick with something seasonal I decided on this:

 Sweet Potato Maple Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from Eat the Love

15 oz (one medium) sweet potato
¾ cup grade B maple syrup* see note
4 8oz bricks of cream cheese (at room temperature) *see note
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp all spice
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp bourbon* see note

*Make the crust just as you would a normal graham cracker crust.  Some crumbs + butter + sugar pressed into a springform pan and baked until a little crusty.  I used the special edition gingerbread graham crackers. I think using regular gingerbread snaps would be great. And you can find the gluten free version posted in the original recipe.

1. Peel and slice the sweet potato into ½” - ¾” slices. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and place the sweet potato slices into the water and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes can easily be pierced by a fork and are soft.

2. In the meanwhile, bring the maple syrup to a simmer in a small saucepan until a small bit of maple syrup dropped into a cold bowl of water turns into a soft ball (the soft ball stage), about 210˚F. 

3. Drain the potatoes completely and place them in medium bowl. Add the maple syrup and, with a fork, mash the potatoes and syrup together, until well blended into a puree.

4. Place the cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy (about two or three minutes depending on how cold the cream cheese is).

5. Beat in the mashed sweet potato and maple syrup puree until fully incorporated and then scrape down the sides. Add the eggs one at a time beating to make sure they are fully incorporated, and scraping down the sides between additions. Add the cornstarch, spices, and salt until well blended. Scrape down the sides and add the vanilla and bourbon and blend until incorporated.

6. Pour the custard into the 9” springform pan with the baked gingerbread base in it, leaving about a ½” - ¼” space left from the very rim of the pan. If you have leftover batter, you can pour it into smaller ramekin and bake it separately, checking the ramekins after 20 minutes or so depending on the size of the ramekin. But try not to overfill the springform pan as the cheesecake will puff up a bit.

7. Place the springform pan in the oven and bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until the edges of the cheesecake start to crack. The center of the filling will still move slightly as the pan is gently shaked, but will firm up as it cools. Try not to overbake the cheesecake as it will dry out.

8. Cool at room temperature for about an hour on a rack and then move it to the refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Note 1: If you decide you don’t want to use the bourbon, just leave it out and add two additional tsp of vanilla extract.

Note 2. Don’t worry about the edges of the cheesecake cracking or if the cheesecake cracks when it cools. It will be hidden under the marshmallow topping. :)

Note 3: I used grade A maple syrup (the real stuff) the second time I made this cake and it was way too sweet - I think I'll even cut down the sugar a bit.

Sour Cream Marshmallow Topping

2 cups mini marshmallows or large marshmallows cut into ½” cubes
¼ cup milk (I used whole but I'm guessing reduced fat would work fine too)

1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 salt
1 cup sour cream (Use regular or reduced fat - not sure if fat free would work as well)

1. In a medium saucepan add the marshmallows and milk together over low heat, constantly stirring with a spatula until the marshmallows have started to melt. When the marshmallows are nearly completely melted, turn off the heat and continue to stir, letting the residual heat of the pan melt them completely. Be careful not to let the marshmallows scorch or burn.

2. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Then let the mixture cool to room temperature, occasionally stirring it.

3. Add the sour cream to the saucepan and using a large spatula, gently lift up the marshmallow mixture over the sour cream and fold together the two until incorporated. Try not to stir too much, but fold by lifting the marshmallow mixture over the sour cream over and over from all sides. (It will look a little runny but no worries - it will set in the fridge)

4. After the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature (or chilled overnight) pour the marshmallow topping on top of the cheesecake and spread it to the edges of the cheesecake, leaving about an even ½” rim around the side of the cheesecake. Put back in the refrigerator to chill for at least another hour to set the topping.

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