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Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Marshmallow Meringue

The subtly flavored yet vibrant orange garnet yams in this cheesecake create a stunning contrast to the dramatic, sweet marshmallow meringue topping. You can bake the cheesecake a day in advance, then refrigerate until ready to add the meringue. If any moisture accumulates on the cheesecake, lightly pat with a paper towel before mounding the meringue on top. For a quicker finish, replace the meringue topping with sweetened whipped cream and skip the torch.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 1/8 cups (155 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) ground pecans
  • 3 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick/125g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the filling:

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. (500 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (170 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (250 g) roasted and pureed sweet potatoes
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs

For the marshmallow topping:

  • 3/4 cup (200 g) egg whites
  • 1 cup (170 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (85 g) sorghum syrup or light agave nectar
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).

To make the crust, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the flour, pecans, brown sugar and butter on low speed until combined, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Press the crust into the bottom of a 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan. Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce the oven to 300°F (150°C).

To make the filling, in a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sweet potato puree, vanilla and spice mixture and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Wrap a double layer of aluminum foil around the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Add the filling and smooth the top. Place in the center of a roasting pan. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm but jiggles slightly in the center, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool in the water bath before topping with the meringue. The cheesecake can be refrigerated overnight.

To make the meringue, in a saucepan, bring 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water to a simmer. Place the egg whites, brown sugar, sorghum syrup and vanilla bean seeds in an electric mixer bowl and set over but not touching the simmering water. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot, about 2 minutes. Place the bowl on the mixer and beat with the whisk attachment on high speed until the meringue cools to room temperature and stiff peaks form, 5 to 6 minutes.

Lightly pat the cheesecake with a paper towel to remove moisture. Mound the meringue on top, using a pastry spatula to spread it to the edges. Using a spoon, create mountains of meringue around the surface. Lightly brown with a kitchen torch. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 6 hours. Serves 8 to 12.

Recipe by Liz Williams, Pastry Supervisor, Blackberry Farm