Sweet Potato Cheesecake


Happy New Year to everyone! I always love January 1st because it’s a time when anything seems possible. Want to lose 15 pounds? No problem. Plan to run a marathon? Easily accomplished. Hope to take your dream vacation? Just book those tickets. All joking aside, no one can deny the sense of limitless possibilities that we feel come January of each year.

I go back and forth with setting resolutions. In 2014 my goal was to read the Bible and I was proud to accomplish that feat. Last year I took a break and didn’t have an official resolution. I’m taking a similar approach this year and don’t have any big resolution planned. One thing that I did take some time to do was think a little about what types of baking-related goals I’d like to tackle on Sweet Precision this year. My list below sums up some of my thoughts for the upcoming year.

2016 Baking Goals

But let’s take a moment to chat about the delicious sweet potato cheesecake that I made for this Sweet Precision post. Matthew and I spent the holidays in Minnesota this year and (as always) it felt like the time went by way too quickly. I made this sweet potato cheesecake to bring with us to a family get together. I’ve posted it before, but this really is one of my top five favorite recipes. You can find the previous post and recipe at this Sweet Precision link. Enjoy!

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OREO Turtle Cheesecake

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“I want cheesecake for my birthday! Can you make some…PLEEEEASE?”

This is the annual request that I get from Matthew on his birthday. It’s a request that (most of the time) I am more than happy to oblige. The exception being last year when I decided to forgo making a birthday cheesecake—an unfortunate occurrence that he has reminded me of several times over the past year.

Having failed at my birthday cheesecake duty last year, I wanted to make something unique and special this year. It’ll be hard to top my favorite which was a Sweet Potato Cheesecake that I made a couple of years ago. However, inspiration struck one day during my weekly grocery run to Meijer. OREO cookies are one of Matt’s favorites, and I thought why not try and incorporate them into a cheesecake?!

This delectable cheesecake boasts an OREO cookie crust topped with a nutty layer of caramel and a classic cheesecake filling. Drizzles of melted chocolate and caramel-pecan sauce finish it off in style. This cheesecake takes a little more work than your basic recipe, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

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The Ultimate OREO Turtle Cheesecake
Makes approximately 12 servings

Ingredients
24 OREO cookies, finely crushed
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 (14 ounce) package caramels
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate

Directions
Place racks in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom and 2 inches up side of 9-inch springform pan.

Microwave caramels and milk in a microwaveable bowl on high for 3 minutes or until caramels are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after each minute. Stir in nuts; pour half into crust. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Refrigerate remaining caramel mixture for later use.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over caramel layer in crust.

Bake 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Microwave reserved caramel mixture 1 minute; stir. Pour over cheesecake. Melt chocolate; drizzle over cheesecake.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Be sure to use a cookie sheet under your springform pan when baking in the oven. The caramel may ooze out during baking and this way it won’t get your oven dirty.

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Sweet Potato Cheesecake

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“I want cheesecake for my birthday! Can you make some…PLEEEEASE?”

This was the request that Matt made for his birthday last week. It was a request that I was happy to oblige considering that cheesecake is his favorite dessert and I’ve made one every year for his birthday. Now make no mistake, if Matt had his way, every post I made would be about cheesecake. Somehow I’ve managed to convince him that you as readers desire a little bit more variety.

Have you heard of a sweet potato cheesecake? I certainly hadn’t before I began searching for a recipe on the web. That being the case, you’re probably wondering how I ended up with the vision for this dessert. Well, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned since Matt and I moved in together, it’s that relationships are all about compromise. For Thanksgiving, he wanted me to make a sweet potato pie, but I had my sights set on pumpkin tiramisu. For his birthday, he wanted cheesecake and I had no problem with that. So how did we reach a compromise? Easy! Sweet potato cheesecake for his birthday and pumpkin tiramisu for Thanksgiving… it’s a win-win situation. And who can really argue with any combination of cheesecake and tiramisu?

This sweet potato cheesecake truly is a decadent treat. The silky texture melts in your mouth and you are left with hints of sweet potato, cinnamon, and nutmeg afterwards. I can imagine this being the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert menu. It’s been tested and approved by the birthday boy himself!

Sweet Potato Cheesecake Recipe
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

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Crust Ingredients
5 ounces graham crackers
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling Ingredients
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon table salt
15 ounces cooked and pureed sweet potato
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks and left to soften at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, left at room temperature, about 30 minutes
1 cup heavy cream

Directions
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse crackers, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and, using hand, spread crumbs into even layer. Using flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

Bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in stockpot. Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside. To dry sweet potato, line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Spread sweet potato on paper towels in roughly even layer. Cover sweet potato with second triple layer of paper towels and press firmly until paper towels are saturated. Peel back top layer of towels and discard. Grasp bottom towels and fold sweet potato in half; peel back towels. Repeat and flip sweet potato onto baking sheet; discard towel.

In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula. Add about one third of sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping bowl after each addition. Add sweet potato, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.

Set springform pan with cooled crust on 18-inch-square doubled layer heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan. Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Set roasting pan on wire rack and use paring knife to loosen cake from sides of pan. Cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
The most common complaint when baking a cheesecake is cracking that develops through the middle of the cheesecake during or after baking. To prevent surface cracking make sure you don’t over bake your cheesecake. When perfectly done, there will still be a two to three-inch wobbly spot in the middle of the cheesecake; the texture will smooth out as it cools. Also make sure you generously grease the sides of the baking pan before pouring in batter to allow the cake to pull away from the pan as it cools.

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Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

The hardest part of Halloween is always finding the perfect costume.

In my household growing up, Halloween costumes were never purchased from the store. I remember being a pumpkin, a princess, a puppy dog—all costumes which were either handmade or created using items we had around the house. However, when I was in first grade I received a Strawberry Shortcake costume which had been passed down from my cousin. I was ecstatic. In my mind, this was going to be the best Halloween costume ever.

Enter the Halloween blizzard of 1991. It starts to snow throughout the day and it progressively gets worse and worse. My mom and I drive home from school and the commute takes twice as long as it should have. By the time we get home, it’s a full blown blizzard. Now by this point it is clear to my mom that I will not be able to wear my cute Strawberry Shortcake costume, as I trek through 9 inches of snow to get candy. I will note that I had clearly not come to this realization yet. My mom being the wonderful mother that she is, suggests that I could instead be a “rainbow girl” for Halloween. What, I’m thinking to myself… NO, this is not what I want to do.

Now my mother is a smart woman. I happened to have a rainbow snowsuit when I was in first grade (and yes, it was cool). Masterfully planned, my rainbow girl costume consisted of dressing me up in my rainbow snowsuit and using face paint to draw little rainbows on my cheeks. I’m sure somewhere there is a picture of me sullenly posing in my rainbow girl Halloween costume amidst the drifts of snow with a big bag of candy in my hand.

So if you don’t have your costume planned for tonight, put on a rainbow shirt, draw some rainbows on your face and consider yourself a rainbow girl- it’s timeless, really.

Although my pumpkin swirl cheesecake isn’t strictly a Halloween dessert, I baked it for our work Halloween party today. It’s really simple and the swirls make it look like you put more effort into baking it that you really did. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups ginger crisp cookies
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 (250 g) packages cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 dash ground cloves

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press onto bottom of 9 inch springform pan. Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended.

Remove 1 cup plain batter; place in small bowl. Stir remaining 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin and spices into remaining batter. Spoon pumpkin batter into crust; top with spoonfuls of reserved plain batter. Cut through batters with knife several times for marble effect.

Bake 45 minutes or until centre is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
It’s easy to over-bake your cheesecake mainly because cheesecakes continue to bake after being removed from the oven. In addition, baking times are not always exact due to variations in ovens. As a rule of thumb, the center of the cheesecake should be just slightly moist when it is ready to be removed.