Pistachio Brittle Cheesecake
1 pkg. (5-1/2 oz.) shortbread cookies
1/2 cup natural unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, diced
3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom
4 large eggs, room temperature
2-1/4 cups sour cream
1/2 cup pear nectar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 ounces good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup natural unsalted pistachios
Crust: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Blend shortbread, nuts and sugar in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter; process until moist clumps form. Press onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2-3/4-inch-high sides. Wrap outside of pan with foil. Bake crust until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool crust.
Filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar and cardamom in large bowl until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add 1 cup sour cream, pear nectar, flour and vanilla extract and beat until blended. Pour filling over crust. Bake cheesecake until puffed at edges and softly set in center, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack; let cool 10 minutes.
Topping: Meanwhile, stir white chocolate in top of double boiler set over barely simmering water until smooth (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Cool chocolate to lukewarm; whisk in remaining 1-1/4 cups sour cream.
Spread topping over warm filling. Refrigerate cake uncovered overnight. Cut around pan sides; release pan sides. Place cake on platter. Stand brittle pieces on edge in topping on cheesecake.
Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Stir sugar and water in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil until deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 12 minutes.
Stir nuts into caramel and immediately pour onto prepared sheet. Working quickly and carefully (caramel is very hot and hardens fast), press tip of small knife into edges of caramel and gently stretch in all directions to form very thin sheet, approximately 12 by 10 inches. Cool brittle completely. Break brittle into irregular pieces. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)