Hello lovelies, it’s been a while. A while meaning that an entire third of a year has passed by with little baking, lots of coffee, all nighters, and papers. Lots and lots of papers. But now that the semester is finally over, I have time to bake AND blog. Since it’s now the Christmas season, foods which make you feel warm and fuzzy inside are the norm. And what better dessert to do that than cheesecake?! Amaretto cheesecake to be exact.
As I was perusing the market, I came across Biscoff cookies, which I first discovered while in England this summer. Speculoos, or cookie butter, is essentially spreadable Biscoff cookies, so all you Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter lovers out there, these cookies are for you. Because they have a caramelized, gingerbread like flavor, I figured the cookies would pair nicely with the Amaretto, hence the Biscoff crust I made in lieu of the standard graham crackers. I also found gorgeous Forelle pears which I bought on impulse, figuring I’d find some way to use them.
After baking the cheesecake, the pears were still calling my name. I decided to slice the pears, brush them with honey, and roast them in the oven to caramelize the slices. After topping the cheesecake with the pear slices, drizzling the top with honey, and throwing on some cranberries for a pop of color, it was complete. The rich cheesecake pairs beautifully with the honeyed pears and Biscoff cookies, making this the perfect dessert for Christmas.
Amaretto Cheesecake with Roasted Pears and Honey
I baked the cheesecake in a water bath which ensures an evenly baked filling. PLEASE be sure to wrap the springform pan well with the tin foil; you do not want any holes or else water will leak into the pan and cause a soggy, sad mess of a crust. To prepare for the water bath, all you need is a large, high-sided roasting pan and a tea kettle full of boiling water. Place the prepared cheesecake in the pan, fill the pan with the water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan, bake, and voilà, you have the perfect cheesecake.
For the crust:
2 cups finely ground Biscoff cookie crumbs (one 8.8 oz package)
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature (4 8-oz packages)
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Disaronno, or any amaretto liqueur
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
For the roasted pears:
2 Forelle pears, sliced
For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by wrapping the outside of it with a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil. Crimp the edge of the foil right below the top of the pan. Set aside.
Pulse the Biscoff cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Put in a large bowl and add in the salt and sugar. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and mix with your hands until well combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan and gently press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely as you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.
For the filling:
Beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until smooth and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 4 minutes more. Add salt, vanilla, and Amaretto, and mix until combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Add in the sour cream, beat until incorporated. Add in the heavy cream, beat until incorporated. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to get any cream cheese that wasn’t incorporated. Beat until smooth.
Pour the filling over the cooled crust, smoothing the top. Place the springform pan in a large, high-sided roasting pan in the oven. Pour boiling water into the pan until the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours.
Carefully remove the cheesecake from the water bath and let cool completely, removing the tin foil when cool. Discard the water in the roasting pan.
For the pears:
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Slice the pears into half-inch slices. Brush with honey and place the slices on a parchment lined sheet. Bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until pears are soft and starting to caramelize.
Let cool completely.
Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake and carefully remove the outer ring from the springform pan.
Arrange the pears on top of the cheesecake. Drizzle with honey. If desired, add some cranberries on top as well. Enjoy.