This is a cheese cake with pride. It will get more ohs and awes than any 5 star Holiday desert you've seen in sometime. The color is so adorable and Pumpkin never looked so good. I had a German lady friend who lived to be almost 94 years old. She came to the United States from the old country during World War 2. They moved to Cullman in the 60's. When her husband passed away, she was 58 and did not know how to drive. I taught her how to drive and went with her to get her drivers license. She was over joyed. She continued to lived alone until she was over 90 years old. She made the Pecan-Praline and used it as part of a cake icing for years. I'm sure she would be delighted with my Pecan-Praline. In Memory of Erna Weber - Smith Lake Cullman County, Alabama.
PECAN PRALINE / POWDER : line a large baking sheet with foil; set aside. In a heavy skillet place the 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cook over medium high heat, shaking skillet occasionally until sugar begins to melt. DO NOT STIR. Reduce heat to low. Stir in the chopped pecans; cook about 3 minutes more or until sugar is golden brown and pecans are toasted, stirring occasionally. Pour this mixture on to foil lined baking sheet, spread with a wooden spoon as thin as possible. COOL. Break or chop the cooled praline into 1/4th inch pieces. Set half of it aside. For the Pecan Praline Powder, place remaining broken pieces into a blender container or food processor bowl. Cover and blend or process until ground. Store in separate containers in refrigerator of freeze up to one week.
CRUST:In a medium mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed about 30 seconds or until softened. Add the 1/4th cup brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the one cup flour. Beat on low to medium speed just until combined.
Pat dough into bottom and 1-1/2 inches up the side of a 9 - inch Spring-form pan. Bake in a 375 preheated degree F oven about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool crust on a wire rack while preparing filling.
FILLING: in a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese,the 3/4 cup brown sugar and the 2 tablespoon flour with an electric mixer on a medium to high speed until combined. Add the Pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon,ginger,and nutmeg, Beat until combined.Add eggs all at once. Beat on low speed just to combine. Stir in the coarsely broken pecan praline pieces, reserve the powder for the topping.
Pour filling into the crust -lined spring-form pan. Place the Spring-form pan in a shallow baking pan on the oven rack. Bake in a pre heated 375 degree F. oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until center appears nearly set when shaken.
In a small bowl combine sour cream and granulated sugar. Spread over top of cheesecake.
Remove Spring-form pan from baking pan. Cool cheesecake in Spring-form pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Use a small metal spatula to loosen crust from sides of pan. Cool 30 minutes more. Remove sides of the spring-form pan. Cool for 1 hour. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Just before serving, sprinkle the Pecan-Praline Powder over sour cream topping in center of cheesecake and garnish with Pecan halves.
NOTE: Be extremely careful when working with the hot sugar mixture for the Pecan-Praline Pieces and Powder.Total attention must be given as things move quickly when the sugar reaches the proper temperature to caramelize. Store Praline Powder in airtight container until serving time.