Sweet Potato Cheesecake

I say this about a lot of recipes, but let me make it clear that I really mean it when I say it this time: this cheesecake is, by far, one of my favorite things. I had the pleasure of trying out this recipe last year for an event a friend used to host each year: Franksgiving. You may know the term as a historical reference to FDR’s choice to move Thanksgiving up a week with hope that it would boost retail sales. Flash forward a few decades to Peter’s Franksgiving; it became a day when we would all prepare a traditional Thanksgiving side dish to be eaten with a turkey frank. This sweet potato cheesecake was my contribution last year. It’s sweet, spicy, and rich, and perfect for the winter season.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Adapted from NYT Cooking
Makes one 9-inch cheesecake

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 12 whole graham crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 3/4 cups mashed sweet potatoes*
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp freshly ground cardamom
pinch allspice

2 cups sour cream, room temperature (1 16-ounce container)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon sticks and nutmeg, for grating

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until combined. Press evenly onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake until set but not brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool.

Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and brown sugar, beating until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add sweet potatoes, eggs, evaporated milk, cornstarch, and spices, beating until well combined. Pour into crust. Bake until edge is set, 45 to 55 minutes.

Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla to combine. Spread over warm cheesecake. Return to oven, and bake until just set, 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack. Grate cinnamon and nutmeg over the top of the cheese cake. Let cool completely on rack, then remove side of pan, and chill at least 5 hours and preferably overnight.

*For sweet potatoes, you’ll need to roast 1 pound sweet potatoes (about 2 medium sweet potatoes). Using a fork, pierce the potatoes in several places then roast in a 400°F oven until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half, scoop out the flesh, and use a handheld blender to cream until smooth.

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