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Pirate's House Cheesecake

Source: Pirates' House, Savannah, Georgia

Crust
30 vanilla wafers, crushed
1/2 cup blanched almonds, ground
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

Mix cookie crumbs, ground almonds and almond extract with butter. Press into bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.

Filling
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/2 cup sugar. Add egg yolks 1 at a time. Add vanilla extract. This can be done in a food processor. Beat egg whites in an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Beat in 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until peaks are stiff but not dry. Fold cream cheese mixture into egg whites on low speed. Pour into pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until cake is set but still soft in the middle and top is golden brown. Cake will puff up, then sink and crack. Do not be alarmed. Cool on a rack for 30 to 40 minutes.

Topping
2 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar

Mix ingredients together until smooth. Pour topping over cake; return to oven for 10 minutes to glaze. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate, preferably overnight. Top with fresh or frozen strawberries or peaches, sweetened to taste, or with cherry or blueberry pie filling.



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