Pistachio Brittle Cheesecake

Pistachio Brittle Cheesecake

Debby had a dessert story published in Bon Appetit several Christmases ago, and she shares one of the recipes here. Pear nectar and cardamom delicately scent the creamy cheesecake; shards of pistachio brittle stand up in the cheesecake and reflect light like pieces of amber glass It’s a big finish for a special meal.

For crust:

  • 1/2 (10-ounce) box shortbread cookies, such as Lorna Doone
  • 1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, diced

For filling and topping:

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sour cream, divided
  • 1/2 cup pear nectar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

Pistachio Brittle

(recipe follows)

Prepare crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap outside of a 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil. Process cookies, pistachios, and sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter; process until blended. Press onto bottom of pan. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool.

Prepare filling and topping: Beat cream cheese, sugar, and cardamom in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended. Add 1 cup sour sour cream, pear nectar, flour, vanilla, and salt, beating just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake until cheesecake is puffed at edges and softly set in center, about 1 hour and 5 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate and let cool slightly; whisk in remaining 1 1/4 cups sour cream. Spread over warm cheesecake. Let cool completely on rack. Cover with an inverted plate and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, release cake from pan and transfer to a platter. Stand brittle pieces in topping. Makes 1 cheesecake.

Pistachio Brittle

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios

Spray baking sheet with cooking spray, or use a silicon baking sheet. Stir sugar and water in small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil until deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 12 minutes.

Quickly stir pistachios into caramel and immediately pour onto prepared baking sheet. Working quickly, press tip of small knife into edges of caramel and gently stretch in all directions until very thin, about 12 x 10 inches. Let cool completely. Break into irregular pieces. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead; store in airtight container at room temperature.)

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