This unbelievably creamy amaretto cheesecake is baked in a thick almond graham cracker crust and flavored with sweet almond liqueur and chocolate chips. Garnish with fresh whipped cream for a truly epic ending to your meal!
Almond Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 and 1/3 cups (120g) graham cracker crumbs (about 9 full sheet graham crackers)
- 1/2 cup (62g) roasted or raw almonds*
- 1 Tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
- 5 Tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, melted
- four 8-ounce blocks (904g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup (240g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (75g) amaretto liqueur
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips*
- topping suggestions: salted caramel, toasted almonds, additional chocolate chips, chocolate ganache, whipped cream*
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and almonds together into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) Mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath or water bath alternative in step 4. Allow crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
- Make the filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the cornstarch, sour cream, amaretto, vanilla extract, and almond extract then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop the mixer. Fold in chocolate chips. Avoid over-mixing the batter.
- Prepare the simple water bath (see note for the alternative I love!): Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. I use an entire kettle of hot water. As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan. Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the crust. Use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place in the oven. (Or you can place the roasting pan in the oven first, then pour the hot water in. Whichever is easier for you.) Here is a video of me demonstrating a traditional cheesecake water bath.
- (Note: if you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.) Bake cheesecake for 60-75 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly jiggle if you gently tap the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven as it cools down for 1 hour. (Inside the water bath or, if you used the alternative, with the water bath pan inside the oven.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Then, refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight. I recommend overnight.
- Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Garnish with toppings. I used toasted almonds, mini chocolate chips, and amaretto whipped cream. See recipe note about toasting almonds and for amaretto whipped cream. I used Wilton 8B piping tip for the pictured whipped cream. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.
- Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions: This cheesecake can be made the day before. It has to chill for quite some time before serving. See step 5. Another way to make this cheesecake ahead of time is to freeze it. Cheesecake can be frozen up to 3 months. See instructions in blog post above.
- Springform Pan: Use a 10-inch springform pan. There is too much batter for a 9-inch springform pan. If you only have a 9-inch pan, fill 3/4 full use extra crust & batter to make mini cheesecakes in a muffin pan– like I do here with my mini cheesecakes recipe.
- Why is Everything at Room Temperature? Bring all cold ingredients to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients combine quickly and evenly, so you won’t risk over-mixing. Also, beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake batter, hardly the way you want to begin!
- Almonds: I use salted almonds for a sweet/salty crust, but you can use unsalted almonds if you prefer. I recommend almond slices because those are what you’ll use to garnish the top of the cheesecake, if desired. We love toasting the almonds for the garnish on top of the cheesecake. To toast, spread about 1/3 cup of sliced almonds on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 6-7 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before using as garnish.
- Chocolate Chips: I recommend mini chocolate chips for teeny bursts of chocolate throughout the cheesecake. They’re a wonderful size. You can use regular size chocolate chips if needed. I recommend 1 and 1/2 cups regular size chocolate chips. You can leave out the chocolate chips entirely, if desired.
- Alternative Method for the Water Bath: Some readers have baked cheesecakes with a large pan of hot water on the rack beneath the baking cheesecake. In this manner, the cheesecake does not bake directly in a roasting pan of water. I’ve tried this method and it works like a charm!! This is a wonderful alternative if you do not own a large roasting pan or are nervous about your springform pan leaking. Simply place a large baking pan filled with 1 inch of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven with the cheesecake in the center of the oven. You may need to add more hot water during the cooking process as the water will evaporate. If using this method, I recommend you still wrap the springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent any steam from creeping into the springform pan.
- Amaretto Whipped Cream: I add 1 Tablespoon of amaretto liqueur to the homemade whipped cream. This is optional. No other changes to the recipe, just add the 1 Tbsp of liqueur when you add the vanilla extract. Delicious!
- Try This: Adding the zest from 1 orange to the cheesecake batter tastes sensational! It’s optional, but whenever we add it– everyone raves.