This unbelievably creamy amaretto cheesecake is baked in a thick almond graham cracker crust and flavored with sweet almond liqueur and chocolate chips. Garnish with fresh whipped cream for a truly epic ending to your meal!
Want to know one of my favorite Christmas traditions? Beyond my grandma’s homemade caramel corn, dark chocolate raspberry coffee cake, soft & thick peanut butter blossoms, and the oh-so-addicting seasoned pretzels?
Amaretto Cheesecake with plenty of whipped cream and chocolate chips.
My family makes this dessert every Christmas Eve. As we grew older, started our own families, and introduced new traditions, amaretto chip cheesecake turned into Christmas cookie platters. This year, as my family of 14 comes together to celebrate Christmas under 1 roof, we are going ALL OUT and ALL TRADITIONAL with amaretto cheesecake.
And, of course, a massive Christmas cookie platter too. 🙂
This comes straight from my family’s kitchen and I’m thrilled to share the recipe with you!
How to Make Amaretto Cheesecake
There are 3 parts to today’s amaretto chip cheesecake:
- Almond Graham Cracker Crust – This is a thick crust made from graham crackers, sugar, butter, and almonds. The almonds take on an absolutely DELICIOUS toasty flavor! Tip: use a measuring cup to pack the crust tightly into the springform pan.
- Creamy Amaretto Chip Filling – Thick and creamy, this cheesecake is flavored with amaretto, almond extract, and sprinkled with chocolate chips. What a trio!
- Toppings Galore – We always add toasted almonds, more chocolate chips, and homemade whipped cream. Salted caramel would be SO good too. See my recipe note if you want to spike the whipped cream with amaretto.
What is amaretto? Just in case some readers aren’t familiar, amaretto is a sweet Italian almond flavored liqueur. Wonderful in mixed drinks, especially during the holidays, and is wonderful in coffee too! It tastes unbelievable with chocolate, so we pair it with mini chocolate chips in this creamy cheesecake. *The alcohol is cooked out during the baking process, but as always… use your best judgement if serving to children.
Creamiest Cheesecake Ever
This is the creamiest cheesecake ever and I guarantee that. Not only are we using my classic cheesecake recipe as the starting point, adding additional liquid (amaretto) creates an even creamier filling. Since we’re adding extra liquid, a little cornstarch bulks up the filling. And sour cream is a key ingredient in the luscious texture, so don’t leave it out!
Careful not to over-bake! Over-baked cheesecake will form cracks and taste dry. When the edges are set and the center is still a little jiggly, the cheesecake is done. Don’t worry, the cheesecake will set as it chills in the refrigerator.
Water Bath Alternative… and it works!
First, what is a cheesecake water bath? Cheesecakes are often baked in a roasting pan filled with hot water, called a water bath. Cheesecake is an egg heavy dessert. Eggs can expand and burn quickly… unless baked in a humid environment. The steam from the hot water will lift the cheesecake up slowly and evenly, reducing the risk of cracks on the surface. Additionally, this slow and even baking method helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking back down as it cools. Taking a few extra minutes to prepare a water bath for your cheesecake is worth it. I can’t say enough how valuable it is!
A few months ago, some readers told me about their water bath alternative. I was intrigued, so I tested it a few times. And it WORKED!
Alternative method for the water bath: Some readers bake cheesecakes with a large pan of hot water on the rack beneath the baking cheesecake. In this manner, the cheesecake does not bake directly in a roasting pan of water. I’ve tried this method and it works like a charm!! This is a wonderful alternative if you do not own a large roasting pan or are nervous about your springform pan leaking. Simply place a large baking pan filled with 1 inch of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven with the cheesecake in the center of the oven. You may need to add more hot water during the cooking process as the water will evaporate. If using this method, I recommend you still wrap the springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent any steam from creeping into the springform pan.
No cracks and this cheesecake DOES NOT sink in the center! Follow the cheesecake recipe below and water bath instructions for a perfectly thick cheesecake.
Baking ahead? Need freezing instructions? Let me help.
How to Freeze Cheesecake
- Cool the cheesecake on the counter before freezing. No need to chill it in the refrigerator
- Freeze on springform pan: Remove the outer rim from the springform pan. Wrap the cheesecake with the bottom of the pan with a few layers of plastic wrap, then a final layer of aluminum foil.
- Freeze without springform pan: After the cheesecake has completely cooled, run a sharp knife underneath the crust to release it from the bottom of the pan. Carefully slide it onto a parchment paper lined piece of cardboard or use a plate. Wrap it all in a few layers of plastic wrap, then a final layer of aluminum foil.
- Freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- Do not freeze cheesecake with any toppings. Prepare toppings for serving cheesecake.
From my family to yours… our special amaretto cheesecake. Let me know if you try it!
Almond Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 and 1/3 cups (120g) graham cracker crumbs (about 9 full sheet graham crackers)
- 1/2 cup (62g) roasted or raw almonds*
- 1 Tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
- 5 Tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, melted
- four 8-ounce blocks (904g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup (240g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (75g) amaretto liqueur
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips*
- topping suggestions: salted caramel, toasted almonds, additional chocolate chips, chocolate ganache, whipped cream*
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and almonds together into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) Mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath or water bath alternative in step 4. Allow crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
- Make the filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the cornstarch, sour cream, amaretto, vanilla extract, and almond extract then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop the mixer. Fold in chocolate chips. Avoid over-mixing the batter.
- Prepare the simple water bath (see note for the alternative I love!): Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. I use an entire kettle of hot water. As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan. Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the crust. Use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place in the oven. (Or you can place the roasting pan in the oven first, then pour the hot water in. Whichever is easier for you.) Here is a video of me demonstrating a traditional cheesecake water bath.
- (Note: if you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.) Bake cheesecake for 60-75 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly jiggle if you gently tap the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven as it cools down for 1 hour. (Inside the water bath or, if you used the alternative, with the water bath pan inside the oven.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Then, refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight. I recommend overnight.
- Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Garnish with toppings. I used toasted almonds, mini chocolate chips, and amaretto whipped cream. See recipe note about toasting almonds and for amaretto whipped cream. I used Wilton 8B piping tip for the pictured whipped cream. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.
- Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make ahead tip: This cheesecake can be made the day before. It has to chill for quite some time before serving. See step 5. Another way to make this cheesecake ahead of time is to freeze it. Cheesecake can be frozen up to 3 months. See instructions in blog post above.
- Why is everything at room temperature? Bring all cold ingredients to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients combine quickly and evenly, so you won’t risk over-mixing. Also, beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake batter, hardly the way you want to begin!
- Almonds: I use salted almonds for a sweet/salty crust, but you can use unsalted almonds if you prefer. I recommend almond slices because those are what you’ll use to garnish the top of the cheesecake, if desired. We love toasting the almonds for the garnish on top of the cheesecake. To toast, spread about 1/3 cup of sliced almonds on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 6-7 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before using as garnish.
- Chocolate chips: I recommend mini chocolate chips for teeny bursts of chocolate throughout the cheesecake. They’re a wonderful size. You can use regular size chocolate chips if needed. I recommend 1 and 1/2 cups regular size chocolate chips. You can leave out the chocolate chips entirely, if desired.
- Alternative method for the water bath: Some readers have baked cheesecakes with a large pan of hot water on the rack beneath the baking cheesecake. In this manner, the cheesecake does not bake directly in a roasting pan of water. I’ve tried this method and it works like a charm!! This is a wonderful alternative if you do not own a large roasting pan or are nervous about your springform pan leaking. Simply place a large baking pan filled with 1 inch of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven with the cheesecake in the center of the oven. You may need to add more hot water during the cooking process as the water will evaporate. If using this method, I recommend you still wrap the springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent any steam from creeping into the springform pan.
- Amaretto whipped cream: I add 1 Tablespoon of amaretto liqueur to the homemade whipped cream. This is optional. No other changes to the recipe, just add the 1 Tbsp of liqueur when you add the vanilla extract. Delicious!
- Try this: Adding the zest from 1 orange to the cheesecake batter tastes sensational! It’s optional, but whenever we add it– everyone raves.
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