Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Marshmallow Meringue

This dessert is for all of your cheesecake loving family members. You can easily substitute pumpkin for sweet potatoes if your family needs to have their pumpkin pie fix, only better, this Thanksgiving!

This is another family favorite from KC, our Marketing Director who is quite a hobby cook and recipe developer. She made the top 25 in the 2016 World Food Championships Desserts, made the top 30 in Season 2 of Gordon Ramsey’s Master Chef and won the Kraft Food Real Women of Philadelphia Cream Cheese contest along with a number of smaller cooking contests. Paula Deen’s Aunt Peggy declared KC’s French Apple Cake the best she had ever tasted!

KC says this recipe is well worth the effort and you will be a Food Star when you bring this to the table!

For the crust: 1 cup graham cracker crumbs  2/3 cup ground pecans or pecan meal  4 Tbs. firmly packed brown sugar 8 Tbs. (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly 

For the filling: 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 tsp. Chinese 5 spice 1/4 tsp. salt 1 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1 cup roasted and pureed sweet potatoes 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract 4 eggs at room temperature 

For the marshmallow topping: 3/4 cup egg whites 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/4 cup light corn syrup ½ t. vanilla Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). 

For the crust: Mix the graham crackers, pecans, brown sugar and butter until combined. Press the crust into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce the oven to 300°F  

For the filling:Combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, 5 spice and salt in a small bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sweet potato puree, vanilla and spice mixture and beat again on medium unti smooth; about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition just until yolk is mixed in. 

Wrap a double layer of aluminum foil around the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Add the filling and smooth the top. Place in the center of a roasting pan. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake until the cheesecake is firm but jiggles slightly in the center, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool in the water bath before topping with the meringue.

The cheesecake may be refrigerated overnight. 

To make the meringue, in a saucepan, bring 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water to a simmer. Place the egg whites, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla in a bowl and set over but not touching the simmering water. Whisk by hand until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot, about 2 minutes. Transfer to an electric mixer bowl and beat with the whisk attachment on high speed until the meringue cools to room temperature and stiff peaks form, 5 to 6 minutes. 

Lightly pat the cheesecake with a paper towel to remove moisture. Mound the meringue on top and spread it to the edges. Using a spoon, create mountains of meringue around the surface. Lightly brown with a kitchen torch. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Serves 8 to 12 easily.