Cherry Almond Cheesecake

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Cherry Almond Cheesecake
Cherries and Almonds are simply meant to go together, and combine beautifully in this Cherry Almond Cheesecake. Use pitted fresh cherries if in season, or substitute frozen or canned dark sweet cherries. The cherries are cooked with butter and sugars then spiked with delicious Amaretto liqueur, and create the bottom layer of the cheesecake. The almond filling is spiked with a little more Amaretto along with sliced almonds for great almond flavor.
Recipe type: Cheesecake
Serves: 10 to 12
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Recipe Notes
Pan: One 9″ Round Cheesecake Pan Prep: Buttered Starting Oven Temp: 350° Method: bain marie Storage: Cover and Refrigerate

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Ingredients
Cherry Layer:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen pitted, or pitted canned or jarred dark sweet cherries drained
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
Vanilla Cookie Crust:
  • 1½ cup vanilla cookie crumbs (such as Nabisco Nilla Wafer cookies or Lorna Doones)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Almond Filling:
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted, and coarsely crushed
Sour Cream Topping:
  • 1½ cups sour cream, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Garnish (optional):
  • Sweetened whipped cream
  • Fresh sweet cherries or maraschino cherries
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Instructions
Cherry Layer:
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet on the stovetop over low heat. Add lemon juice and cherries, increase heat to medium high, and cook for 1 minute, stirring gently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Sprinkle the sugar over the cherries, and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring gently Remove from heat and stir in the amaretto. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare one 9 inch round cheesecake pan or springform pan with 3-inch sides; use a pastry brush to lightly butter the pan with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
Vanilla Cookie Crust:
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cookie crumbs and melted butter. Stir until thoroughly mixed and mixture is crumbly.
  2. Bake: Pour the cookie crumb mixture into the springform pan. Using the back of a large spoon or the flat bottom of a measuring cup or drinking glass, press the crumb mixture firmly and evenly across the bottom of the pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet; bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool.
  3. When cooled, wrap bottom and sides of pan in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil to prepare for the bain marie water bath. The foil is to prevent any water from seeping into the cheesecake through the pan seams.
  4. Reduce oven to 325 degrees F.
Almond Filling:
  1. In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, sugar, and cornstarch; mix on low speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly and there are no lumps.
  2. Add the sour cream, whipping cream, lemon juice, amaretto liqueur, vanilla extract, and almond extract; continue beating on medium low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions. Stir in the crushed almonds. Tip: crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the cheese mixture. Tip: Do not overbeat the cheesecake batter. Blend the ingredients quickly to add as few air bubbles as possible. The ingredients must be well blended, but excessive beating creates too many air pockets which can cause the cheesecake to puff up too much during baking, and then crack during the cooling process.
  4. Let the filling rest about 5 minutes to allow air bubbles to rise to the surface.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil to use for the bain marie water bath.
  6. Pour the cooled cherries plus all the cherry liquids over the vanilla cookie crust, gently spread in an even layer being careful not to mar the crust. Pour the cheesecake filling over the cherry layer.
  7. Bake: Set the foil wrapped springform pan in a larger pan or roasting pan and transfer to the oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan, and close the oven door. Bake 60 to 80 minutes. Tip: The Cheesecake is done when the edges are set but the center 2 to 3 inches are still a pool of liquid batter. The cake should look as though it has puffed a little and just barely beginning to brown. The center will still be soft and jiggly when the pan is lightly jarred or tapped with a spoon.
  8. Remove from oven, place springform pan on a wire cooling rack to cool. Immediately run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, gently pressing into the side of the pan to avoid gouging the cake. This allows the cake to contract away from the sides of the pan as it cools, helping to prevent cracks.
Sour Cream Topping (optional):
  1. Add the sour cream topping after the cheesecake has been removed from the oven and cooled for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Spread it evenly over the surface of the cheesecake.
  4. Bake: Return cheesecake to the oven, Bake for 5 minutes to set the topping. Remove from oven, and place on a wire cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
  5. When cheesecake is completely cooled, cover the pan and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours before serving. Try to avoid having the covering touch the top of the cheesecake as this may mar the surface.
Garnish (optional):
  1. When ready to serve, top individual pieces with sweetened whipped cream, a few toasted sliced almonds, and a sweet or maraschino cherry.
Adapted From: The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, Oxmoor House, New York, 2009

Cherry Almond Cheesecake

Cherry Almond Cheesecake

Cherry Almond Cheesecake recipe