foolproof homemade cheesecake with pecan crust

“The feelings of being loved and being listened to are so similar, most people can’t tell the difference.” David Augsburger

Before I say anything else here today, I have to say this: thank you. To every one of you who read the last two posts, who heard my heavy thoughts, who voiced your own perspectives on making friends and being real and people-pleasing, who listened, thank you.

I have so many things I want to say to you today, so many thoughts on intimacy and friendship and identity, but the truth is, part of learning to love is learning to listen, really listen, and so right now, listening is the thing I most want to do.

So today, I bring three simple things: a Nashville announcement; a list of recent inspirations (i.e., places where I’ve been listening lately, where my soul’s been stirred); and, a recipe, for foolproof homemade cheesecake with pecan crust.

I hope you’ll enjoy them, too, and know, I’m sending them with a heart full of gratitude.

homemade plain cheesecake

Hey, Nashville: So tonight, Tim and I are headed to Music City’s annual Generous Helpings event, put on by Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee. Held at the Nashville Farmers Market building downtown, it will feature small plates from over 30 of the city’s best restaurants and eateries, with all proceeds going to benefit a great cause: Second Harvest. Tickets cost $40 until 10 a.m. today, or $50 at the door. We’d love to see you! We’ll also be posting about the event here sometime next week*. Learn more from Second Harvest online.

flawless homemade cheesecake drizzled with chocolate

I’ve been finding good words everywhere lately, and not just the printable kind, which we now have hanging in the house. Here are a few recent inspirations (and feel free to share yours!):

  • “Decorating Truths from a 15-Year-Old Tanzanian Boy” | Nesting Place: I’ve been following along with a group of bloggers who went to Tanzania with Compassion recently, and this post from the epic blogger The Nester (sister to Emily who wrote “Grace for the Good Girl” that I mentioned in the last post) just destroyed me. I hate the way I think about hospitality (I shouldn’t invite someone to stay here; we only have one bathroom!) and I hate my materialism, but mostly I just hate how trapped up inside my own perspective I tend to be. This is good for expanding it.
  • “Solutions for a Painful Internet” | Helen Jane: What are we consuming online? Do we think about it? As strong and visually appealing a case as I’ve ever heard for learning to whittle down what you’re listening to, especially online, this post reminded me to protect myself in terms of what I’m taking in.
  • “Be the One to Be the One” | Incourage: When you know you need community but you don’t know how to seek it out, this list of 22 tangible acts of friendship is great food for thought.
  • Cardamom and Nutmeg Waffles with Minted Strawberries | TurnTable Kitchen: If you follow our Facebook page, you may have already caught this link a few days ago, but it’s still worth repeating for its excellent discussion of jealousy, competitiveness and the ugly things we women do instead of supporting one another. Convicting and enlightening and helpful.
  • {letting your dirty feet rub against the dirty feet of your neighbor} | Gussy Sews: Another post from the Compassion trip that stopped me where I was. I think this quote sums it up well, “Life is about loving on each other — all the time — in the name of Jesus.”
  • 5 ways to Breathe in a Breathless World | Chatting at the Sky: Excellent thoughts on what to do when you’re hitting a wall, creatively speaking, when it feels like you’re getting nowhere.
  • Nurturing Creativity | Elizabeth Gilbert: I’ve long believed that the act of creating is so satisfying because it is an act that is like God—a way we reveal our being made in His image. This TED Talk, while it doesn’t say exactly that, made me think about it again.

And without further ado, the cheesecake:

Foolproof Homemade Cheesecake with Pecan Crust

Adapted from AllRecipes
Makes one nine-inch-round cheesecake

This cheesecake was something. Looks-wise—virtually flawless, no cracks, no imperfections. As for tastes, every person who tried it raved. I can even tell you, without embarrassment, that I, a lifelong cheesecake-hater, ate two pieces at one sitting. I know. Try to make it a night ahead of time, if at all possible, so you can let it sit, cooled, still in the springform pan overnight in the fridge.

Crust Ingredients:
3/4 cup whole-grain spelt flour
1/4 cup Sucanat
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (optional)
6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed (no substitutes)
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling Ingredients:
40 ounces organic cream cheese, softened (i.e., five 8-ounce packages)
1 3/4 cups Sucanat
3 tablespoons whole-grain spelt flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Optional: chocolate to melt for topping

Grease a 10-inch springform pan. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pecans and lemon peel, and cut in the cubed butter until crumbly. Combine egg yolk and vanilla; add this to the flour mixture. Press mixture onto the bottom of greased springfrom pan. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Set aside.

The best part of this cheesecake recipe, in my opinion, is that you don’t have to bake it in a water bath. Instead, fill a 13″ x 9″ by 2″ baking dish with 8 cups of water, and place this on the lowest oven rack. Reduce the oven’s heat to 325 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, beat the 40 ounces of cream cheese until smooth. Next, gradually beat in sugar. Add the flour, vanilla and salt. Combine eggs and egg yolks; add them to the cream cheese mixture just until combined. Beat in heavy cream just until combined. Pour this filling over the baked crust in the springform pan.

Bake cheesecake on middle rack at 325 degrees F for about an hour, or until the center is almost set (slightly move the pan and see if the middle moves much; it should just slightly slightly move). Leave cheesecake and water in oven, but turn the oven off and open the door. Cool like this for another 10 minutes. Then remove cheesecake from oven, carefully run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan and, leaving it in the pan, set it somewhere to cool about an hour or so longer. Can be refrigerated overnight still in pan (this is best). Remove sides of pan.

Optional extra step: Melt chocolate in a double boiler until drizzling consistency and drizzle over top of cheesecake.

*Our tickets to the Generous Helpings event are being covered by Second Harvest, but all opinions expressed on this blog will be our own.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. Denise @ Creative Kitchen

    I’m so excited to start pouring over your blog! I just organized my google reader a couple days ago and started using it again (thanks to my new iPad…I’m finally getting a system to keeping up with blogs I love to read). What a gem to bump into yours today. :)

    This cheesecake looks amazing, and I know the crust must be incredible. I make a similar one buy mine is oat and walnut based. Nut based crusts are the best. Have a great weekend!!

    1. Shannalee

      Hi Denise! That’s so great about the iPad–Tim has one for his job, and he loves it. : ) I know what you mean about finding a good way to keep up with blogs. You’ve really gotta have a system or there’s no way! Glad to have you bump by today.

  2. Amanda at the red table

    I so appreciate your candor and outlook on things. Thanks for the positive thoughts and resources :) And the cheesecake.

    1. Shannalee

      Thank you for that positive comment, Amanda! I really do appreciate it.

  3. Cookie and Kate

    This cheesecake looks phenomenal! I’m glad to know that you can successfully sub sucanat in cheesecake recipes. My heart has been bursting with gratitude lately, so much goodness to be found. Love that talk on creativity, too!

    1. Shannalee

      Kate, I’m so glad you brought that up because I felt the same way–sometimes Sucanat can change the texture of fragile things like cheesecakes or, at the very least, darken them so they’re not so appetizing anymore, so I wondered. I think what helped with this recipe is the enormous amount of cream cheese (40 ounces!), so things still looked fairly light (and the taste worked out, too).

  4. MaryAnn

    Such good thoughts…thanks for making your ‘home’ on the internet one that is full of encouragement.
    A question about the recipe – can another flour be subbed for the spelt? I just don’t have anywhere around here to buy spelt (but I’m dying to try it out!).

    1. Shannalee

      Great question, MaryAnn. You can sub all-purpose flour–I’d recommend to try to at least get unbleached if possible. And as far as spelt, huge bummer there’s nowhere to buy it around you, but you can buy it online anytime! I once ordered a 15-pound bag. Really.

  5. Lan

    that quote at the beginning? man, it really resonated with me!

    the trick of having a water tray on the lowest rack is the best. i can’t tell you how disheartened i feel when i see a crack on top of a cheesecake i’ve made. your creation looks beautiful!

    have a wonderful time tonight, hope to see lots of great pix!

    1. Shannalee

      Me too. I heard it years and years ago, but it stuck with me because it’s so right.

      And yes! about the water tray! The first cheesecake we made involved a water bath, which was just more trouble than it was worth for the results we got. This one, though, so ideal.

  6. deirdre

    mmm. the pecan crust is the clincher.

  7. The Duo Dishes

    Spelt flour keeps popping up. We haven’t baked with it before, but it might be fun to get our hands on some. Delicious cheesecake crust!

    1. Shannalee

      DD – What’s great about spelt flour is you can sub it one-to-one for all-purpose in recipes. So easy!

  8. Clare

    Shannalee! It’s been a while since I’ve commented, but I’ve been reading all.the.while! Your words are so honest, and your attitude so humble, that I always seem to find something tangible to take with me during the rest of my day. I especially love this collection of encouraging places to settle into.

    Also, I love, love that you wrote ‘no substitutions’ after the butter in the crust! There really isn’t any! (Well, maybe lard…) And that your recipes include sucanat.

    Thank you!

    1. Shannalee

      Thank you, sweet Clare! And I can’t take credit for the ‘no substitutions’ after the butter : ) – that was actually how the recipe was originally written. I changed a couple things and rewrote the directions, but the butter thing was from AllRecipes. I liked it, too.

  9. Marissa

    The Nashville event sounds so fun – wish I lived closer! + Thank you for all of the great read links.
    Cheesecake looks fantastic. I’ve been on a buckwheat flour kick lately, how do you think it would be in place of the spelt?

    1. Shannalee

      Hi Marissa, I think buckwheat can potentially make a great cheesecake crust (this looks promising, although I’d stay away from agave:, but it’s not an easy one-to-one sub, so it would take some trials first. Would love to hear if you find something you like!

  10. kate

    I can appreciate the ability to listen, as we love. It’s been a lesson I’ve learned through my own marriage and lifetime, to listen to what others say as often in their words I can hear something vital that I hadn’t thought of myself.

    And what fun to browse through your links to those things that you enjoy and see sweet Maggie’s post from Gussy Sews. Our paths cross on occasion here in MN, and she has a quiet grace that I’ve often admired. Such a small, small world we live in here.

    And that cake? Marvelous. Just marvelous.

    1. Shannalee

      That’s so cool, Kate! I love when the world feels smaller! So nice to hear someone speak kindly about someone else here in the comments, too–thanks for reinforcing my impression of Maggie. : )

  11. Wesley @ the way home

    yum! so glad to know about your blog! and i definitely want to try this cheesecake. i’m sorry i won’t be seeing you tonight at lauren’s, but hopefully i’ll see you next Friday!

  12. kale

    I love your point about hospitality. I used to be so ashamed of hosting dinners or evenings in our tiny apartment and felt like everyone must have been feeling so cramped and uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the only source of discomfort was the one I was perpetrating. Then my husband and I spent 4 months living with 500 other people working on a volunteer project and we saw how many times we were warmly welcomed into peoples “homes”, which were just rooms. Happily, my attitude was adjusted and I came to see that hospitality is an act of warmth and invitation made valuable by the giver and the giving, not what is given. Or where.

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks for that comment, Kale. You’re right that a lot of times it’s only our own mindsets that are making hospitality difficult and the people we’re entertaining don’t mind at all—but even when they do, we can help show the truth that it’s not about our fancy spread or comforts by welcoming them warmly.

  13. Caroline

    Well i have never used this kind of flour or sweetener before – no idea what to expect! However, i’m now the stage of opening the oven door (after 1.5hrs) and the cheesecake has risen about 2inches above the cake tray! It looks amazing – to be eaten tomorrow evening :) will let you know the final outcome.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Oh, so glad to hear it, Caroline! Would love to hear what you think after you taste it! : )

  14. Pingback: Cheeseless Crustless Quiche (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) | Food Loves Writing / Real Food Recipes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>