Almond Cheesecake with Cherry Topping

I was spoiled for my birthday dinner this past week. Steve made me my fav fettucine alfredo with homemade sauce, peas, bacon, chicken and mushrooms. Delish.  And for dessert?  Because obviously there was dessert. Amy whipped up a quick almond cherry cheesecake.  To. Die. For. Complete with candles, in the shape of a 2 and a 6.


ALMOND CHEESECAKE (courtesy of Eating Well, Living Thin-er!)
(Note: The recipe is for a sugar-free cheesecake, but the words sugar-free are not in our vocabulary, especially when it comes to dessert. The recipe below includes the substitutions.)

Ingredients
crust:
+  vegetable cooking spray
+  1 cup graham crumbs
+  1/2 cup flour
+  1/4 cup butter, melted

filling:
+  4 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
+  1 1/4 cups sugar
+  1 1/2 tsp almond extract
+  1 tsp vanilla extract
+  4 eggs
+  1/4 cup half and half
+  1 tbsp flour

topping:
+  2 cups sour cream
+  1/4 cup sugar
+  1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray a 10 inch spring-form pan with vegetable cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl combine the cracker crumbs, flour and melted butter. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool while making the filling.

For the filling - In a large bowl whip the softened cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat in the eggs one at a time just until blended. Beat in the half and half and flour just until combined. Pour into cooled crust and bake for 1 hour or until set on the edges and jiggly in the very center 2-inches. Keep oven on.

For the topping - In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread to the very edges of the baked cheesecake. Return to the oven for 5-15 minutes,or until just set.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge and cool completely BEFORE removing the sides of the pan. Wrap tightly and chill overnight. Makes 20 servings.

CHERRY TOPPING  (courtesy of My Recipes)


Ingredients
+  2/3 cup tawny port or other sweet red wine
+  1/2 cup sugar
+  2 (10 oz) bags frozen pitted dark cherries
+  2 tbsp lemon juice
+  4 tsp cornstarch


Directions
To prepare topping, combine port, 1/2 cup sugar, cherries, and reserved vanilla bean halves in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until cherries are thawed and mixture is syrupy. Remove vanilla bean halves; discard.

Combine lemon juice, cornstarch, and 4 teaspoons water, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Stir cornstarch mixture into cherry mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 3 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened and shiny. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill. Serve over cheesecake.


You will not regret making (or eating) this.  It's THAT good!