This maple cheesecake is a nice departure from the pumpkin cheesecake that graces most Thanksgiving tables. No doubt, pumpkin cheesecake is delicious, but this maple version is truly something special. I made it for a party that I had at my house, and everyone raved about this cheesecake. They could not exactly put their finger on what the flavoring was, which is good, because sometimes maple can be incredibly overpowering. This is delicate, creamy, and rich. I found these cool dehydrated maple flakes at Williams-Sonoma, and they were the perfect garnish for this cheesecake.
Cheesecake is the perfect make-ahead dessert. You can make it a month ahead of time and freeze it until you are ready to use it. Defrost the cake in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then you are good to go. Cheesecakes are also really easy to make. The hardest part is getting the cooking time right. I always have to fight with myself to not overbake a cheesecake. It will look like the center is not cooked, but it is. You just have to trust. If you overbake it, it will lose its creaminess, and that is what cheesecake is all about. No matter when you make a cheesecake, you need to make sure that you give it enough time to chill in the fridge. It is a very important step and unless you start baking it in the morning, it needs to be made the day before you want to serve it.
For the crust:
3/4 cup flour
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
For the cheesecake:
3 (8-ounce) packages room temperature cream cheese
1 (8-ounce) container room temperature mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs at room temperature
Maple Whipped Cream:
Combine the flour and brown sugar. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter and add the pecans.
Press the mixture into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely.
Combine the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese in a stand mixer. Beat until smooth.
Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, half-and-half, flour, and vanilla. Mix well.
Add the eggs, and beat until just combined.
Pour the cheesecake filling over the cooled crust.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until about a 3-inch area around the cheesecake is set and the middle still jiggles. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Gently run a knife around the edges, and remove the ring. Cool for 2 hours, and then cover and chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Mine cracked a little. So I made a maple flavored whipped cream to cover it up. No one was the wiser.
Whip the heavy cream and Whip-It until soft peaks form. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and continue to whip until it is thick. I put mine in a piping bag and piped it over the top. Sprinkle with maple flakes.
You can make the cheesecake a few days ahead, or even freeze it for up to one month, but I would add the whipped cream the day that I was serving it.