I once went to my garden club's luncheon meeting held at a "fancy" restaurant. Members supplied the dessert, using fresh foods from their gardens. I made this with sweet potatoes from our garden and even the chef was impressed. Not a morsel was left!
- Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a bowl. Mash together with a fork until well-blended. Pat on the bottom only of a springform pan. If using a pie plate, pat on bottom and sides.
- Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cool, put ring of the springform pan.
- In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy, then add in: brown sugar and beat one minute more. Finally add in the rest of the ingredients and beat until fairly smooth.
- Pour into the cooled crust. (If using a springform pan, I set it on a cookie sheet or a sheet of aluminum foil wrapped on the bottom to catch any leakage.) Place a shallow pan, like a pie pan, of water in the bottom of your oven. Place the cheesecake on a rack directly above the pan of water.
- Bake in 350 degree oven for about 40 - 45 minutes until almost set in the center. (It will still "jiggle" slightly when done.) Turn off oven, open door about halfway and let sit in the oven to cool for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sit on a counter to cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate. (Don't panic if it cracks on top. This is normal because of differences in temperature between the hot oven and your kitchen. Remember - this is homemade goodness!)
- After cake is thoroughly chilled, remove sides from springform pan.
- Cut with a knife dipped in very hot water between each cut.
- If desired, serve with a large spoonful of whipped cream on top of the cake slice or on the side of serving plate.