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$500 Winner: Sweet Category

Clarisse Blair | Nueces EC

Clarisse Blair’s mother, who developed this recipe in the ’60s, shelled pecans from 50-pound bags given to her by a grower in Carrizo Springs. “After our parents are gone, things as simple as recipes bring back the sweetest memories, and my mother would be so proud that the cheesecake won.”

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

3 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each), softened
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons flour
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped Texas pecans

2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons finely chopped Texas pecans

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Crust: Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, bake for 9 minutes and remove from oven. When cool, wrap the bottom of the pan with heavy-duty foil to ensure that it is totally leak-proof. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
  • Cheesecake: In a stand mixer or with a strong hand mixer at medium speed, combine cream cheese, brown sugar and flour, scraping down sides as needed. Continue beating and add beaten eggs slowly. Blend in vanilla, and stir in chopped pecans. Pour filling into foil-wrapped springform pan, set it in a larger pan and pour water into larger pan to about halfway up the sides of the springform.
  • Bake in 450-degree oven 10 minutes, then turn temperature down to 325 degrees and bake an additional 50 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, set on a cooling rack and cool completely.
  • Garnish: When cheesecake is completely cooled, brush maple syrup over the top of cheesecake, allowing some to seep down the sides. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
  • DO NOT REMOVE SPRINGFORM RING. Cover with foil and chill for several hours or overnight before serving. Remove ring when you are ready to transfer to a cake plate and serve.

Servings: 12. Serving size: 1 slice. Per serving: 721 calories, 10.59 g protein, 55.35 g fat, 41.87 g carbohydrates, 4.71 g dietary fiber, 246 mg sodium, 32.86 g sugars, 131 mg cholesterol