My family will use any excuse whatsoever to throw a party, any milestone or holiday will do. Menus vary depending on who is hosting the party. But when it comes to the dessert table everyone contributes and brings a dessert. We know that we are always guaranteed to have a very special dessert made by my godmother. My godmother is also my mother’s twin; I will spare you stories about how they used to trick me into thinking that my godmother was my mother when I was four years old… Anyhow, you know it is a really special occasion when my godmother brings her cheesecake. She has been making it for as long as I can remember, it is so rich and creamy with deep flavors of almond and orange liquors.
I wanted to make something really special for two of my co-workers whose birthday was on April 19: J & M—Happy Birthday Girls! I looked through many cheesecake recipes, and realized that what I had in mind was something like my godmother’s cheesecake. So I got her recipe and got to work. The best part about this cheesecake is that you don’t have to bake it in a water bath.
I could not find my spring form pan (later realized I had left it at a friend’s house), so I ended up making the cheesecake in a round 8 by 3 inch pan, and had enough crust and filling left to make 2 individual ones in one cup ramekins. I crossed my fingers hoping they would release easily, while I secretly expected the worst. I greased the pans with butter really well, and then lined the bottoms with parchment paper. They released very easily! So if you don’t have a spring form pan you can still make the cheesecake in ramekins.
This was the cheesecake for the birthday girls which I baked in the round 8 by 3 inch pan:
Almond Grand Marnier Cheesecake
1 ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup slivered almonds, ground
5 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoon orange peel
Melted butter to grease pan
24 ounces cream cheese (three 8 ounce packages), at room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ Grand Marnier
¼ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups sour cream
¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ cups Amaretti cookies, crushed
1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. With a brush, grease a 9 ½ inch spring form pan with melted butter. In a bowl, mix all ingredients for the crust. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan up to ½ inch from the top edge of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and let cool.
2. Make filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese and mascarpone and beat until the mascarpone has incorporated into the cream cheese and the mixture is smooth. Add the brown sugar, Grand Marnier, heavy cream, and extracts. Beat until blended. Add eggs and egg yolks, and beat until blended. Pour the filling into the prepared pan. Place the pan on a cookie sheet on the middle rack of a 350°F pre-heated oven. Bake for about 50 minutes. The top will be puffed and browned and the middle should still jiggle.
3. Make topping: In a bowl, mix sour cream, brown sugar, Grand Marnier, and almond extract until well blended. Pour over cooled cheesecake. Bake at 350°F for 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
4. Before serving, run a knife around the edges of the pan, release sides of the pan, and place cheesecake on a platter. Garnish with crumbled Amaretti cookies.
Alternatively, you can make individual cheesecakes in 1 cup ramekins. Grease eight 1 cup ramekins with melted butter. Line the bottoms with a parchment paper circle to fit your ramekin. Also grease the parchment paper after placing it inside. Divide crust into 8 ramekins. Press crust only into the bottom of the ramekin, bake crust for 10 minutes at 350°F, and let cool. Divide filling into 8 ramekins, bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350°F. The cheesecakes should be puffed and browned but still jiggle in the middle. Let cool. Pour topping over cheesecakes, bake for 5 minutes at 350°F. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Run a knife around edges of each ramekin, and release cheesecake. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with crumbled Amaretti cookies before serving.
Take a bite: