Introduction: New York Style Cheesecake With Almonds and a Speculaas Crust
Speculaas is a very popular Dutch cookie, similar to a ginger snap but much more flavorful, and often topped and even filled with almonds. Here it serves as an inspiration for additional flavor to a traditional New York style cheesecake.
(This stuff is commonly sold pre-blended in Holland, but here's a guideline to blending your own. Depending on your interpretation of one "part", you'll probably have enough for multiple batches.)
8 parts ground cinnamon
2 parts ground cloves
2 parts ground mace
2 parts ground nutmeg
1 part ground white pepper
1 parts aniseed powder (or ground fennel seeds)
1 part ginger powder
1 part cardamom powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon of baking powder
3/4 cup grams brown sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
2.5 teaspoons of speculaas spices
a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350º.
In a bowl, blend all the ingredients for the speculaas into a smooth, non-sticky ball.
Spread out flat on the bottom of a 9-inch springform baking pan. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the dough starts to darken. Take out of the oven and let cool.
4 8-ounce packs of cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup of sour cream
3/4 cup milk
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of almond extract or almond liqueur
sliced almonds for topping
In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer at slow speed, combine the cream cheese with the sugar. Add the milk. Add the sour cream. Add the eggs, one by one, making sure each one is blended in completely before adding the next. Finally, mix in the vanilla extract and almond liqueur. Do not over mix.
Making the cheesecake
Create a "bain-marie" or water bath by placing a 12-inch wide cake pan on the middle rack of the oven (or use a disposable aluminum roasting pan)
Wrap the bottom of the springform pan (with the speculaas crust still in it) in two layers of aluminum foil to prevent water seeping in.
Pour cheesecake mixture over the crust, and top with the slivered almonds.
Place springform pan inside the "bain-marie" and fill the "bain-marie" with hot water, halfway up the height of the springform pan.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 350º for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, turn off the oven and let the cake cool inside the oven for at least 3 hours (this will prevent cracking).
Refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.