Almond Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 and 1/3 cups (120g) graham cracker crumbs (about 9 full sheet graham crackers)
- 1/2 cup (62g) roasted or raw almonds
- 1 Tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
- 5 Tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, melted
- four 8-ounce blocks (904g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup (240g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (75g) amaretto liqueur
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- topping suggestions: salted caramel, toasted almonds, additional chocolate chips, chocolate ganache, whipped cream
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and almonds together into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) Mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath or water bath alternative in step 4. Allow crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
- Make the filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the cornstarch, sour cream, amaretto, vanilla extract, and almond extract then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop the mixer. Fold in chocolate chips. Avoid over-mixing the batter.
- Prepare the simple water bath (see note for the alternative I love!): Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. I use an entire kettle of hot water. As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan. Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the crust. Use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place in the oven. (Or you can place the roasting pan in the oven first, then pour the hot water in. Whichever is easier for you.)
- (Note: if you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.) Bake cheesecake for 60-75 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly jiggle if you gently tap the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven as it cools down for 1 hour. (Inside the water bath or, if you used the alternative, with the water bath pan inside the oven.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Then, refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight. I recommend overnight.
- Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Garnish with toppings. I used toasted almonds, mini chocolate chips, and amaretto whipped cream. See recipe note about toasting almonds and for amaretto whipped cream. I used Wilton 8B piping tip for the pictured whipped cream. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.
- Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.