Eddie Hernandez is the master of meshing the food of his childhood in Monterrey, Mexico, with the traditions of the South, and sweet potato is an ingredient that bridges the cultures especially well. “In Mexico, it’s very common to make roasted or baked sweet potatoes, and it’s an everyday thing to add cream cheese and spices,” says the executive chef at Taqueria del Sol in Nashville, Atlanta, and Athens, Georgia. “It’s also very popular to cook sweet potatoes in homemade cinnamon syrup, called almíbar; and once you roast the sweet potatoes and add that sauce, you can’t go wrong.” One of his favorite sweet potato creations: a cheesecake that has quickly become a favorite on his fall table (and a favorite of knowing customers who place special orders). Top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream, and you’ve got the perfect fall dessert.
Eddie Hernandez’s Sweet Potato Cheesecake
The executive chef of Taqueria del Sol shares his perfect fall dessert
photo: Jenny Everett
Eddie Hernandez’s Sweet Potato Cheesecake (Yield: One 10-inch cheesecake or 12 to 16 servings)
For the crust:
½ cup sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
For the filling:
3 cups peeled, cooked, and mashed sweet potatoes (or unsweetened canned puree)
24 oz. (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
8 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream
1½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in the center. Wrap several layers of heavy-duty foil around the bottom exterior of a 10-inch springform pan.
Make the crust: Place the sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and butter in a food processor and pulse to combine. Press the mixture into the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and set aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 425°. Pour ½ inch of water into a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan and place in the oven.
Make the filling: Put the sweet potatoes, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, cream, vanilla, and cloves in a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until well combined and smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Assemble: Pour mixture into the baked crust. Set the cheesecake into the water bath. Loosely cover the cheesecake with foil and bake for 60 to 90 minutes, or until set (internal temperature will be 150° and center of cake will still wobble a bit).
Remove from the oven and from the water bath and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight before slicing and serving. The cheesecake can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days.
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