Madagascar Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Maple Pecans

Today is a cheesecake day. It’s the middle of the week, you’re tired from work and you just can’t seem to pacify your craving for something cold, velvety and delicious. Time to bust out the dairy, Paleo pals.

I’ve decided to drive down to Idyllwild this weekend, as recommended by a friend of mine. Apparently, that place is crazy gorgeous, so I’ll be sure to bring back some goodies for you. It’s going to be a solo trip, which is completely terrifying because I’ve never really camped before, let alone… alone. But I’m looking forward to fending off some bears, eating crockpot BBQ pulled pork and lulling myself to sleep with the soothing sounds of Sasquatch rustling in the bushes.  Seriously, though, I’m kind of scared sh*tless. Not so much of wildlife but mostly the other campers! Will they judge me if I can’t start a fire? (my housemate said I could use some of my hair to get it going) Will they assume that I’m planning suspicious activity because I’m on my own? The possibilities are endless.

You know what else is endless? VEGETABLE STALKS. Disgusting. Especially kale stalks. They are friggin’ lead bullets in my mouth. And they make me think of shriveled up caterpillars. Just like the MORON who stole my lightbulb from my studio desk. Because he/she was too much of a lazy, cheap ass to go out to Walmart and buy one for $2.00. The economy cannot be this bad.

This is better though.

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Ingredients:-

Crust

1 pack of Teddy Grahams (or some other equivalent graham crackers that aren’t bear-shaped)

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

1/2 teaspoon salt

Batter

2 lbs cream cheese (I just used Philadelphia)

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup heavy cream (yeah, this is not at all for the faint hearted)

3/4 cup caster sugar

5 eggs

2 vanilla bean pods, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out

4 squares 72% dark chocolate, melted (to drizzle)

1/2 cup pecans

1/4 cup maple syrup/agave nectar

Method of Madness:-

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly butter a 8-10 inch cake pan.
  2. Place graham crackers, butter, chopped almonds and salt in a food mixer and blend till it resembles sand. (Or, if you’re a poor college student like me, just use your fingers to crush and mix the stuff together)
  3. Press crust mixture firmly against the base and walls of the cake pan until 1/8 inch even thickness.
  4. Bake crust in oven for 10 minutes until golden brown. Take it out to cool.
  5. Place cream cheese and sugar into a large bowl and, using a electric hand mixer at medium-high speed, beat until mixture is smooth and sugar is fully incorporated.
  6. Dip your finger into the mixture and shove it in your mouth. It’s always important to taste your food. :D
  7. Beat eggs one at a time and incorporate fully one after another.
  8. Add vanilla pod seeds, heavy cream and sour cream and mix for another 2-3 minutes until smooth. Velvety smooth.
  9. Pour mixture into cake pan over the crust, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top for the cheesecake to rise.
  10. Place a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the pan and set to bake in the middle rack for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until your knife/chopstick/toothpick comes out clean when you poke the bottom.
  11. While waiting, place agave nectar/maple syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally until slightly thickened and darkened amber.
  12. Add pecans and coat with the syrup.
  13. Pour the maple pecans onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside to cool.
  14. Once cheesecake is done, let it cool in the oven for another 40 minutes – 1 hour, to avoid cracking the top.
  15. Wrap the top loosely in the aluminum foil and place in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
  16. After waiting for what seems like forever, add maple pecans on top and drizzle melted dark chocolate over with an artistic flair.
  17. Cut a small square for your roommate/best friend/partner and INHALE THE REST.
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