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Everyone loves cherry cheesecake. This version features the intense flavor of dried cherries beneath a rich blanket of creamy cheese filling, all nestled in a buttery crust.
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk, (save the white for the cheesecake filling)
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) water
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1 3/4 cups (7 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (5 ounces) dried cherries, sweet or sour
1/3 cup (2 1/4 ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon Instant ClearJel(r) or cornstarch
1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup (4 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch or flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract or 2 drops bitter almond oil (both optional)
2 large eggs plus the reserved egg white
1/4 cup (2 ounces) heavy cream
Crust: Beat the butter, sugar and salt until fluffy, then add the egg yolk, water, and flavoring. Stir in the flour. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a deep 9-inch pie pan. Chill for 30 minutes.
Bake the crust in a preheated 375°F oven for 16 to 18 minutes, until it's a light, golden brown, using pie weights or your favorite method to weigh it down as it bakes. Set it aside to cool.
Cherry filling: Mix the dried cherries, sugar, and thickener in a small saucepan. Add the water and bring to a boil, then set aside.
Cheesecake: Slowly blend the cream cheese with the sugar and salt, until no lumps remain. When smooth, add the cornstarch or flour, and flavoring. Stir in the eggs and the reserved egg white, then the cream.
Spread the cherry filling into the baked crust, then top with the cheesecake batter. Bake the pie in a preheated 325°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until it's barely set.
Turn the oven off and let the pie sit in the oven with the door propped open for 20 minutes, then remove it from the oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and sliced toasted almonds, if desired. Yield: 8 to 12 servings.