Birthdays around here are a big deal, but cake is not always the pièce de résistance. It seems that as everyone in my family has gotten older, their requests for birthday desserts has become more varied. My son wants two pies in November for his birthday while my other son often asks for an ice cream cookie cake. My brother is in the pie camp, not being a big lover of cakes and my daughter, who happens to be my last consistent hold-out for the birthday cake tradition, likes cakes with themes. (For her birthday last spring, I made a cake shaped like a purse, or at least I attempted to makea cake shaped like a purse lol).
The other day when I asked my mom what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday, her reply was quick and decisive, “Pecan Cheesecake”. As someone who adores cheesecake, I didn’t ask her twice for fear she might change her mind.
My mother has always had a soft spot for red polka dots so I was thrilled to find red polka dot paper plates at Hobby Lobby while shopping for party supplies. However, finding a centerpiece proved a bit more challenging. Since the table was rather small, I needed a centerpiece that was colorful, but not overpowering. After all, there still had to be room for us to comfortably sit around the table and eat the birthday cheesecake. I decided to improvise with what I had at home and turned two Fenton milkglass goblets upside down and used them as candleholders. I then added a Fenton milkglass candstick to the mix.( I am a firm believer that displays made with an uneven number of objects is always more interesting than those made with objects in even numbers.) Finally, to add texture to the grouping I placed three antique white doilies under the candleholders and added three silk red flowers for a spash of color.
Later that day, my brother and his wife joined us for a quiet, yet happy birthday celebration. You’ve heard the saying, “When momma’s unhappy, everyone’s unhappy”? Well, I can attest the opposite held true that day, “When momma’s happy, everyone’s happy” and momma was happy!
FOR THE PIE CRUST:
2 1/2 Graham Cracker crumbs (I use gluten-free)
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, melted
FOR THE FILLING:
2 8oz packages Cream Cheese, softened
2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour (I use gluten-free)
1/3 cup Sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Pecan Halves
1/4 cup Organic Pancake Syrup
1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Prepare the pie crust by stiring together the Graham Cracker crumbs and Sugar. Add the melted Butter and mix until moist. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan, making sure it does not get too thick, and about 2 inches up the sides. (Depending on the actual size of your pan, you may have some crust mixture left over). Set aside.
Using a mixer, beat the Cream Cheese and Flour on medium speed for about 5 minutes until smooth with no lumps, scrapping the sides often. Add the Sugar and beat until blended and smooth. Add the Vanilla and beat for additional 30 seconds. Add the Eggs, one at a time, beating until blended. Do not over beat. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Arrange the pecan halves on top of the cheesecake in a circular pattern.
Combine the Pancake Syrup and the Vanilla. Drizzle mixture over the pecans.
Bake at 325 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes or until done. The cheesecake will be slightly puffed around the edges and will only jiggle slightly, if any. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
Once completely cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
After refrigeration, unclasp the side of the springform pan and remove it. Run a long, thin knife or metal spatual unter the bottom crust of the cheesecake and carefully slide the cake onto a serving plate.