(Mass Appeal) – We are celebrating with a traditional treat for Fat Tuesday! It’s a day full of parades, parties, food and in our case, cheesecake! We’ve asked none other than Jessie-Sierra Ross, of the blog Straight to the Hips, Baby, to share a recipe fit for the holiday.

Pecan Praline Cheesecake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

serves 10


1 springform pan
1 sheet of parchment paper, cut into a circle

4 large sheets of tinfoil
1 large cast iron pan or other large shallow vessel 

(we will be using a water bath to make the cheesecake)


For the Crust
2 cups crushed graham crackers about 2 packages
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch kosher salt

For the Cheesecake Batter
4 blocks cream cheese (32 ounces) at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon optional
1 1/2 teaspoon fine vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


For the Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare the middle rack for baking.
  2. Line a springform pan with a round of parchment. Reserve
  3. Take the graham crackers and crush in a food processor or by hand, until you have fine crumbs. Place into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  5. Add the melted butter to the graham cracker crumbs, along with the sugar and ground cinnamon. Use a fork to mix until the crumbs are moistened.
  6. Dump the crumb mixture into the springform pan and press evenly to create the crust. Push some of the mixture up the sides of the pan and press down firmly to create a nice even crust.
  7. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature on a baking rack until use. 

For the Cheesecake Batter

  1. Lower the oven temperature to 325F
  2. Boil 4 cups of water on the stove top or in a kettle. We will be making a water bath to bake the cheesecake.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, whip the softened cream cheese on medium-high speed, until fluffy. About 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  4. Next, on low-medium speed, add in each egg individually and beat until incorporated. Wait to add the next egg until the previous one has been completely mixed into the batter.
  5. On low-medium speed, add the bourbon (optional), vanilla extract, and salt. Beat until combined. About 1 minute.
  6. Prepare the Water Bath
  7. Taking four large sheets of foil, you must construct a protective liner for your cheesecake as it bakes in its water bath. Using two sheets of the foil, fold the horizontal edges together to make one large sheet. Crunch the seam to make it ‘seal’. Do the same with the next two sheets.
  8. Now that your four sheets of foil have been made into two larger sheets, place them on top of each other, one seam should be horizontal and one vertical. We are trying to prevent any of the water from leaking into the cake!
  9. Place your springform pan into the middle of the foil and scrunch & fold around the pan. Keep the top of the foil from touching the top lip of the pan.
  10. Next, place the pan into your larger baking vessel to ‘nest’ the pan in. Make sure there is room around the pan for the water bath.
  11. Now, pour your cheesecake filling into the prepared crust, and lightly smooth the top out with a rubber spatula or small offset palette knife.
  12. Very carefully, using a ladle or pouring directly if you are brave, pour the boiling water into the larger cooking vessel, surrounding the springform pan. Pour until halfway up the side of the springform pan. Don’t spill any water into the cheesecake itself.
  13. After creating the water bath, carefully transfer the whole vessel to the oven and bake on the middle rack for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until set, turning the cheesecake around midway through baking. The center should be just set when done.
  14. After baking, Set two wire racks on your counter, one of them with a dish towel underneath.
  15. Retrieve your baked cheesecake and carefully place on the rack without the dish towel. Using oven gloves, very gently lift the foil wrapped springform pan and place on the other rack. Still wearing the gloves, carefully peel the foil away.
  16. Move the larger vessel to the side, and place the now unfolded cheesecake on the rack to cool to room temperature. 
  17. Let the cheesecake sit in the fridge for least least 6 hours (or even better, overnight) before serving. Just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  18. To un-mold, gently run a sharp knife around the edge of the cheesecake, and then unsnap the springform. The parchment paper we placed at the bottom of the cake will let you transfer to a cake plate easily. 

To Serve

  1. Top with caramel sauce and candied pecans. A dollop of freshly whipped vanilla cream is a nice touch too!


Homemade Bourbon Caramel Sauce


1 large saucepan
1 whisk
1 spatula
oven mitts


2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon fine vanilla extract
1 tablespoon bourbon optional
1 pinch kosher salt


  1. Portion out all of your ingredients and have your tools & oven mitts ready.
  2. Place a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sugar.
  3. Melt the sugar while stirring occasionally with a spatula. This will be a low and slow process!
  4. Continue to stir until the sugar melts into a liquid. Be patient and very careful not to burn the sugar. Lower the heat if the sugar starts to scorch. About 10 minutes.
  5. After the sugar has melted to a brown viscous liquid, lower the heat and put on your oven mitts.
  6. Carefully pour the heavy cream into the sugar and using a whisk, stir down the bubbles. This will be a dramatic reaction and it’s important that you wear oven mitts to not accidentally burn your hands!
  7. Continue to whisk until you have a thickened sauce. 2-3 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and whisk in the bourbon, vanilla extract, and salt. 
  9. Let cool slightly and pour into a large glass jar with a lid. Close and let cool to room temperature. Chill to store.


Sugared Pecan Topping


1 large baking sheet
1 large piece of parchment paper
1 large skillet
1 spatula


1 1/2 cups raw whole pecans
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch kosher salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and place the parchment paper on the baking sheet. 
  2. Add the pecans to the baking sheet and roast for about 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Nuts burn easily, so keep an eye on them.
  3. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool. Reserve.
  4. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, add the brown sugar, water, vanilla, salt, and spices. Mix. The sugar will melt quickly.
  5. Add the pecans to the melted sugar mixture and stir to coat (keep the baking sheet and paper ready). Let cook for about 5 minutes, while stirring. Lower the heat if you notice the nuts are cooking too quickly. The coating will become slightly shiny and shouldn’t be sticky at the end.
  6. Spread the candied nuts on the parchment paper and let cool. Store in an airtight container until use.