Now that your Turkey is brined and ready to be rotisseried for Thanksgiving, you can now turn your focus to your wonderful side dishes and delicious desserts. Everything you cook or prepare in the kitchen requires specific tools. No kitchen tool is more important than a good knife or knives. That why I love my 30-Piece Six Star +™ Cutlery Set from Ronco. The set includes all the knives you’ll ever need, there and ready to tackle any cutlery task…AND at a very affordable price. (They make great Christmas presents as well!) You may not always notice how often you reach for a knife in the kitchen. And you will see in this recipe, that even a dessert requires the precise cutting tools to make chopping a slicing easier.
I wanted to share a recipe for one of the desserts I’ll be making for my Thanksgiving celebration this year, Bruleed Almond Ginger Pear Cheesecake. This recipe is my own but the base of the cheesecake is inspired by one of my favorite bakers’ recipes, Rose Levy Beranbaum. She is an awarding winning baker, food blogger and cookbook author. Her recipe calls for a combination of cream cheese and sour cream in her cheesecake recipe to give her it an extra level of creaminess. She bakes it in a water bath to give the cheesecake more of a custardy texture over a denser version.
- Do your self a favor and use full-fat cream cheese and sour cream. It really makes a difference.
- Brûlée torches are readily available at specialty kitchen stores and add a nice caramelization to this recipe, however, this is a completely optional step. If you don’t have one just substitute with some caramel sauce drizzled on top.
- Although there are a lot of instructions for beating ingredients make sure to only beat to incorporate. Over-beating ingredients make for a runny cake.
- 2 cups gingersnap crumbs (use a food processor or blender to make crumbs)
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 16 ounces sour cream
- ½ tablespoon candied ginger, finely minced with your chef’s knife
- 3-4 Baking pears cut into 1/8-inch slices (Bosc, Anjou, French Butter pears)
- 1, 8 by 2-½ inch springform pan
- 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Equipment- Crème Brulee torch
- To make gingersnap crust preheat oven to 350º F. Add crumbs to springform pan and add ¾ cup unsalted butter. Mix crumbs and butter together to make a crust. Use the back of a spoon to press the crumbs evenly to the bottom of the pan and about ½ up the sides.
- Bake crust for 12 minutes in your preheated oven.
- Make your filling. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and sugar with a hand mixer with whisk attachment until completely blended and lump free (about 3 minutes).
- Add in cornstarch and beat for 30 seconds to incorporate.
- Add eggs in one at a time and beat until incorporated before adding the next. Scrape bowl down with spatula between adding eggs.
- Add almond extract and salt and beat until incorporated.
- Beat in sour cream until blended. Chop candied ginger with your #5 Chef Knife, add to sour cream blend and stir until incorporated.
- Using your #2 Carving Knife, slice pears into 1/8-inch slices and then into halves. Layer pears onto cheesecake as shown.
- Cover the bottom of your springform pan with a couple of layers of aluminum foil. Place cheesecake pan into a larger pan and pour in enough hot water to about 1 inch up the pan.
- Place cheesecake into a preheated oven and bake at 350º F for 45 minutes. Without opening oven, turn it OFF and leave cheesecake for 1 hour. Remove and allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature for about 1 hour before letting it refrigerate overnight.
- OPTIONAL: To add a brûlée crust, sprinkle pears with a single layer of sugar and melt the sugar with your brûlée torch. Constantly move the torch back and forth just above the sugar. DO NOT let it rest in one spot for too long. When sugar is melted and bubbly, add another thin layer of sugar and repeat process 3-4 times to get a nice caramelization.
May your Thanksgiving be as sweet and joyfilled- just like this cheesecake!
Chef Paja-Dejur Sanchez