I am SO excited to share this recipe with y’all. It is AMAZING and amazingly easy. Cheesecake recipes can often be fussy with water baths and the like, but this one doesn’t call for any of that. But first, let me take you on a little trip…
Last fall, I had the amazing opportunity to take a trip with the National Pecan Shellers Association to be a part of the pecan harvest in Albany, Georgia. Pecans are something I know. My grandparents have lived in a pecan orchard for my entire life. When I create recipes that involve nuts, I almost always use pecans. They’re easy, versatile, and delicious. And while I admittedly learned a lot about harvesting, processing, and packaging pecans on an enormous scale, the thing that I took away from that trip was a connection to a delightful family named the Willsons. They own Sunnyland Farms in Albany and have been providing the country with the highest quality pecans, candies, and baked goods since 1948. There’s plenty I could say about this amazing family-owned business, but this probably says it better than I can…
All that said, Sunnyland has become my source for the highest quality pecans. I used them in this cheesecake because despite it being easy, it’s something I wanted to best ingredients for. Now, I’ll admit pecans can be a premium ingredient, but nothing replaces the flavor of pecans. And like I always tell folks, when you’re on a budget, look for recipes that use pecan pieces rather than halves. They’re more affordable and work just the same in most cases. There’s no reason to buy the more expensive halves only to chop them up for your recipe. This recipe calls for halves on the top, because they’re prettier, but I promise you large pieces will work just as well.
Now, let’s get to this cheesecake. Y’all I can’t even being to tell you how amazing this is. There are pecans in the crust and on top. I mean… gracious!
First, let’s talk about how easy it is. Ok. Many cheesecake recipes call for a water bath and you’ve got to be all fussy about keeping it from cracking when baking. Well, guess what? It’s gonna crack. But you know what else? We’re gonna cover that sucker with the most delicious caramel and pecans; no one will ever know about that little ol’ crack.
I’ve made this a few times and no one could believe that I made this. They all thought I had bought it somewhere. I’d say that’s a pretty good indication that it was good. So, go try it and prove to your family and friends you can make a dessert that’s on-par with the best bakery around. Y’all are seriously gonna love this one!
Easy Caramel Pecan Cheesecake
- 9 full sheets of graham crackers crushed (about 1 1/2 cups crushed)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
For the topping:
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9-inch spring-form pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, pecans, and butter. Stir well. Pour the mixture evenly into the bottom of the spring-form pan and press firmly to create a crust.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a bowl and hand mixer) combine the softened cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Add the eggs and mix well.
- Pour the batter onto the crust. Lightly tap the pan on the counter to get out any air bubbles.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the center in almost completely set. Cool and then refrigerate overnight to allow the cheesecake to firm up before serving (or at least 3 hours for those impatient folks).
- To make the topping, preheat the oven to 325°F and spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake them for 7 to 10 minutes or until just fragrant. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and heavy cream. Cook until bubbly, then stir in the toasted pecans. Cool to room temperature before pouring over the cooled cheesecake.