Most everyone in my family enjoys cooking. My mom Patsy, my sister Pam, sometimes even my brother David and I get a kick out of trading recipes.
So you can thank my baby sis Pam, a talented Texan who followed her true love to Tampa, for this sure-to-please Sweet Potato Cheesecake. Topped with a luscious praline paste and oodles of toasted pecans, this creamy, almost pumpkin-tasting concoction spells Y-U-M. I made it and Bob's all-time favorite Chocolate Cream Pie for Thanksgiving, and he actually had a hard time deciding which he liked best. Trust me, that's high praise from a man who always chooses chocolate.
Even better, this irresistible cheesecake doesn't require a lot of work. You start with a large ready-made graham cracker pie crust like Keebler's 10-incher that says "2 extra servings" on the package.
The filling calls for Neufchatel cheese, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, eggs, mashed sweet potatoes and lemon juice. I like using Neufchatel rather than standard cream cheese here because you get the same taste with about one-third less fat. For the sweet potatoes, Pam buys fresh ones and microwaves them. But I'm all about shortcuts so I microwave frozen sweet potatoes instead. Then you have no messy potato skins to worry about.
Although the filling comes together in a flash, you do need to think ahead when making this delish dessert. I start a day or two before time because it needs about an hour in the oven, an hour cooling and at least 8 hours in the fridge before you mix up the 5-ingredient, caramelized brown sugar topping. You'll need about 15 minutes for that. But, since the topping sets almost instantly, you're ready to roll once you've added it and sprinkled on the toasted pecans.
If your group is anything like ours, they'll adore the flavor of this pecan-and-praline crowned gem so much they'll go back for more and then ask for the recipe. It's so popular at Pam's place in Florida that she always doubles the recipe for her crowd. They can go through 2 of these cheesecakes in no time. As for Bob, our son Cole and me, we can't wait to repeat this winner. Wanna guess what's on the menu for Christmas?
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Beat Neufchatel cheese, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla until blended and smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating briefly after each one. Mix in sweet potatoes and lemon juice until combined. Pour into crust.
Bake 50 minutes or until almost set. Turn oven off. Wait 15 minutes with cheesecake in oven and door closed. Move cheesecake to a wire rack to cool for about an hour. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours before adding Praline Topping.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place brown sugar, whipping cream and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Boil 1 minute, stirring often. Move pan off heat. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Let the mixture rest 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Immediately pour on cheesecake, spreading until the topping comes close to the crust.
Place pecans on a cookie sheet and bake 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Spread pecans around the outer edge of the cheesecake.
Return cheesecake to refrigerator until ready to serve.
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