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Try a custard pie for Pi Day
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Rustic raspberry-topped custard pie - photo by Jana Stocks Brown
When it comes to pie, everyone has a favorite, from bright citrus key lime to the dark decadence of chocolate silk. There are fruit lovers who demand all pies have a double crust and go well with ice cream, and there are those who delight in creamy pudding mixed with coconut or bananas. Then there are the pumpkin lovers who argue a pie without a squash isn't a pie at all. Around our house we love them all, but there is one pie we love the best: the cheesecake.

Some might argue that cheesecake isn't a pie, however, upon considering the structure of a cheesecake, it becomes obvious that cheesecake is the ultimate pie. Cheesecake comes in layers with a crust and a filling. It can be infused with fruit, squash, citrus or nuts, and even have several layers of crust. Cheesecake can be chocolate or plain, topped with whipping cream or left bare, and can even be frozen or served with ice cream. You don't even have to call it cheesecake, but custard pie.

This recipe is for a baked cheesecake best made the day before serving. So think ahead for Saturday, March 14, and make your Pi Day amazing.

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Baked Cheesecake for High Altitude

Crust:

2 sleeves graham crackers, crushed (optional: use golden sandwich cookies)

cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon sugar

Filling:

24 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened

1 cup sour cream

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons high-quality vanilla

1 tablespoon caramel sauce (optional)

2 eggs

3 egg yolks

cup cream or half-and-half

Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by lining bottom and sides with parchment paper.

Prepare crust by combining cracker crumbs with 1 tablespoon sugar and melted butter. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes, until lightly toasted.

Prepare filling by combining cream cheese, sour cream and sugar in a stand mixer. Whip until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. This will take several minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine caramel sauce (if using), vanilla, eggs, egg yolks and cream, and whip together. Pour egg mixture into cream cheese mixture one-third at a time, mixing after each addition to fully incorporate. Whip an additional 2 minutes once both mixtures are completely combined. Pour filling over crust and move to a 235-degree oven. Bake for 1 hours. The center will not look set, but the custard is done at this point. Turn off the heat and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional hour. Remove to the counter for 1 hour and then to the fridge overnight.

The next day, depan the cheesecake by running a hot, wet knife around the edge and removing the springform. Top as desired and serve chilled. This is a very rich dessert and works best served in small wedges.
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