You can pretty much find cheesecake in any flavor these days. Have you ever been to the Cheesecake Factory? Looking at their endless list of options can make you cross-eyed. While there is nothing wrong with the classic, whether you like yours made with ricotta cheese or cream cheese, sometimes you want a cheesecake with an extra hint of flavor and something a little different. Hence me trying out a recipe for a Maple Walnut Cheesecake. Those flavors just seem synonymous with the Fall season and with Thanksgiving just a few days away this may be a good option for you to serve for those guests who are just not into Apple or Pumpkin Pie.
I began by making the crust. I pulsed a sleeve of graham crackers – 9 crackers – in my food processor until they were crushed. I then added in walnuts and brown sugar and continued pulsing the mixture until it was finely ground. Finally I added in melted butter, salt and nutmeg and continued pulsing the mixture until it was combined. Following that I pressed it into the bottom and about an inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan that I wrapped with aluminum foil. I then baked it in the middle rack of a preheated 350 F oven. On the lower rack of the oven I placed a roasting rack filled halfway with water. Once the crust was light golden, about 10 minutes, I transferred the crust to a wire rack to cool. Once it was cool it was time to make the filling…
To make the filling I began by creaming together 4 8 oz. packages of room temperature cream cheese in my stand mixer until it was smooth. I then added in maple syrup and granulated sugar. Following that 4 eggs, one at a time. And finally flour, heavy cream, lemon juice and vanilla extract. The original recipe called for maple extract, but, since the recipe only called for a quarter of a teaspoon I didn’t want to buy an ingredient that I was certain I wouldn’t use again anytime soon, if ever.
Once the filling was ready I poured it into the cooled crust and then placed the cheesecake in the oven directly over the roasting pan with water.
After baking for about an hour I transferred the cheesecake to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. I knew it was ready because it was set around the edges but slightly jiggly in the middle. After it cooled I covered it with aluminum foil and refrigerated it overnight.
The following day before removing the springform ring I let the cheesecake sit at room temperature for an hour and then ran a knife along the edges. The ring came off without incident (i.e. no sides of the cheesecake were ripped). I couldn’t wait to enjoy a slice and while the cheesecake was perfectly creamy it didn’t have much of a maple flavor in my opinion. I’m not sure if that’s because I didn’t use the maple extract or because it is meant to be more of a subtle flavor as opposed to one that overpowers the cheesecake. One thing that did stand out was the walnuts in the graham cracker crust; it added a nice nutty flavor.
Maple Walnut Cheesecake
For the Crust:
1 sleeve graham crackers, 9 crackers
3/4 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of Kosher salt
For the Filling:
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon maple extract*
*I opted to use vanilla extract
Fill a roasting pan halfway with water and set on a rack in the lower third of the oven, position another rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil.
To make the crust; pulse the graham crackers in a food processor a few times until crushes. Add in the walnut and brown sugar and continue pulsing until finely ground. Add in the melted butter, nutmeg and salt and pulse to combine. Press into the bottom and about 1-inch up the side of the prepared springform pan. Bake until the crust is lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the filling; beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the maple syrup and granulated sugar and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each one. Increase the speed to medium high and beat in the flour, heavy cream and lemon juice and extract until the filling is smooth and silky, about 1 minute.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust and transfer the cheesecake to the oven directly over the water bath. Bake until golden and set around the edges and slightly jiggly in the middle, about 60 -70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 5 hours or overnight. Let the cheesecake sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and remove the springform ring.
Recipe from the Food Network