Thursday, November 21, 2013

Butterscotch Pecan Cheesecake

One of the sweet advantages of living in Toronto is having easy access to Mary McLeod's Shortbread. Founded in 1981, it was the first business in Canada devoted exclusively to the creation and sale of hand-made, pure, quality shortbread. Starting in a small shop under the marquee of the Capital Theatre in Toronto, Mary's shortbread, or her 'wee babbies' as she calls them, were an instant hit and still are to this day. At the heart of Mary Macleod's Shortbread popularity and renown customer loyalty is her unwavering core belief that her shortbread must be handmade in small batches from only the best ingredients possible. From a short list of high quality ingredients: pure creamery butter, premium Canadian flours, Belgian chocolate, and the freshest nuts, Mary creates many unique flavours of shortbread, such as Chocolate Crunch, Dutch Chocolate, Hazelnut Crunch, Coconut, Coffee, Orange Chip, Butterscotch and of course her original recipe.

Mary McLeod

Every Christmas, I bake dozens of Mary McLeod shortbread for family and friends, using her secret recipe that I found online a number of years ago. One of the newest recipes I recently came across was her decadent Butterscotch Pecan Cheesecake, in which she uses leftover trimmings from her delicious Butterscotch Bars as part of the crust. Ground into crumbs, the tasty offcuts are now packaged in small batches by hand, just like her cookies, and sold to customers. The package is foil lined and includes a recipe for Butterscotch Berry Crumble on the back, but can also be used for this outrageously delicious Butterscotch Pecan Cheesecake.

Mary McLeod's Butterscotch Shortbread Crumbs

If you're not fortunate enough to live in Toronto, you can order her cookies or Butterscotch Shortbread Crumbs online and have it delivered anywhere in Canada or the U.S., or you can make your own Butterscotch Shortbread, with the added bonus of having leftover shortbread cookies to enjoy in addition to having the crust for this yummy Butterscotch Pecan Cheesecake.

Butterscotch Pecan Cheesecake
Serves 8-10
Adapted recipe from Mary McLeod

1 1/2 cups Mary Macleod’s Butterscotch Crumbs (or use the recipe below)
2 8 oz pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp unbleached flour 

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup chopped pecans 

Salted Caramel & Pecan Sauce:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Begin by making the caramel pecan sauce by combining the butter and brown sugar in a large saucepan, and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer just until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Let the caramel cool. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer the pecans to a work surface and let them cool. Coarsely chop the nuts, stir them into the cooled caramel, and set aside.

Butter the bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan. Press Mary Macleod’s Butterscotch Shortbread Crumbs (or crumbled shortbread from the recipe below) into the bottom of the baking pan.
 Beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth. Add the sugar, beating until well blended and smooth.
 Then add the eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Add flour and pecans, and mix until combined.
 Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 350°F for one hour, or until centre is almost set.
 Once the cheesecake has cooled, pour the caramel pecan sauce over the top and serve.

Recipe photo: Taste of Home

Butterscotch Shortbread Cookies
Makes 50-60 cookies
Adapted recipe from Taste of Home

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup icing sugar
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butterscotch chips, finely chopped

In a large bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar until it becomes light and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, sieve together the flour, cornstarch and salt, then combine with the butter sugar mixture and blend to combine. Fold in the chopped butterscotch chips and mix well. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, as it will be easier to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch fluted or round cookie cutter, cut the dough into decorative shapes. Place the cookies 1-inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-11 minutes, or until they're lightly browned. They may look undone, but allow them rest on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. The shortbread can be stored in airtight containers, or a portion can be ground and used as part of the butterscotch crumble crust in the above recipe.