Grand Marnier Cheesecake

Grand Marnier Cheesecake

Crust:
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts), ground
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange peel

Position rack in the center of your oven. Preheat to 350*. Heavily butter a 9 1/2 inch springform pan. Mix all crust ingredients and press into the bottom and within 1/2" of the rim of the sides of the pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely. Note: may increase the crumbs to 2 cups and the butter to 1 stick.

Filling:
Four 8oz. pkgs. Philadelphia cream cheese, room temp.
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs, room temp.
2 large egg yolks, room temp.

Place all filling ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended.
Pour into cooled crust. Bake until top puffs and is a golden brown, about 50 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool 15 min.
Add topping and bake another 5 minutes. cool completely.

Topping:
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix well. pour over cake; continue to bake 5 minutes as stated above.
Cool completely and then cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the edges. Release the pan sides and slide cheesecake onto a serving dish.

Decoration:
1 pint fresh strawberries
6 tablespoons strawberry preserves, warmed
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup whipping cream
3 teaspoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier

Starting in the center of the chilled cake, arrange whole or sliced strawberries and then mandarin orange slices, leaving a 1" border around outer edge. Whip cream with
Grand Marnier and powdered sugar. Pipe a decorative shell border with the whipped cream all around the fruit. Brush the strawberries with the warmed preserves to create a glaze. Do not glaze the orange slices. Decorate the whipped cream with the candied orange peel. Recipe follows.

Note: In a pinch I've used warmed apple jelly for the glaze although the strawberry tastes better.

Candied Orange Peel:
1 large thick skinned orange (Navel, Valencia, etc.)
1/2 cold water
2 tablespoons sugar

Place water in a small saucepan
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the orange being careful not to remove any of the white pith with the peel. Cut into 1/4" strips.

Blanch strips in boiling water for 1 minute; rinse. Repeat blanching and rinsing process twice.

Cook 1/2 cup water and the two teaspoons sugar in a small saucepan, swirling often. Add orange peel until a glaze forms and almost all the liquid evaporates.

Spread out onto waxed paper and cool. Make sure to separate each piece to prevent sticking. Cool completely.

Source of recipe: Chiqui