Bourbon Pecan Praline Cheesecake

Recipes and Food Styling by Michelle Buhr
Photography by Brian W. McDonald

4 weeks ahead

2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafers
1/2 teaspoon finely ground instant espresso
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 stick and 2 tablespoons butter, divided
3 pounds cream cheese, cubed and softened
3 cups sugar, divided
6 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 pinches salt, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
1 teaspoon bourbon
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups crushed pecans
Sweetened whipped cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine wafers, espresso, cinnamon and 1/2 stick melted butter to make crust. Press the crust into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, puree cream cheese until smooth. Add 2 cups sugar, processing until incorporated. With the machine running, add eggs, one at a time. Add cream, flour, 1 pinch salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and bourbon. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides of the processor. Process until the batter is smooth. Pour batter over crust. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the center is firm. Remove from oven. Run a knife around the sides of the pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine 1 cup sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 pinch salt and condensed milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, stirring, for about 8 minutes, or until smooth and light brown. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and pecans. Continue to cook, stirring, until mixture reaches 234°F to 240°F on a candy thermometer, or soft-ball stage. Remove from heat. Pour mixture over cheesecake. Let cool completely. Wrap tightly in a double layer of cling wrap. Freeze for up to 1 month. Prior to serving, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Serve with whipped cream.