Habanero-Lime Cheesecake

This Caribbean pepper is famous for being the hottest chile pepper in the world. They come in a variety of shapes and colors(yellow, orange,green, red,chocolate). Not only are they extremely hot, but they also have a unique,distinctively fruity flavor.

It is the key ingredient in the popular Jamaican Jerk sauce. The habanero is also widely used in many different types of hot sauces. The popularity of this chile pepper continues to grow and is becoming easier to find on the grocery shelf.

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1 cup graham crackers, plus 1 to 2, ground to crumbs
melted butter
pinch of salt


24 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
1 pinch salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3 habanero chiles
2 Tbsp. sugar


Preheat the oven to 400F, then set a rack in the middle of the oven. Place a baking pan on the rack below this. Boil a kettle of water.

Mix the crumbs and salt together, then add the butter to make the mixture hold together but remain slightly crumbly. Set aside 1/4 cup for the topping and press the rest into the bottom and sides of a 9″ spring-form pan, then set aside.

Roast the habaneros over an open flame and set them to steam under a towel. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and deseed the chiles. Proceed with caution.

Pound the chiles in a mortar with 2 Tbsp. of sugar until you have a coarse paste. Now cream the cream cheese and add the sugar and salt. Beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add the cream. Beat the zest and lime juice into the filling and beat until well mixed. Pour into the crust. Gently tap the pan to level out the filling, then sprinkle the top with the reserved crumbs.

Pour the boiling water into the pan in the oven and put the cheesecake on the rack above it. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until the cheesecake pulls away from the edge of the pan. Remove the spring-form from the oven and let it set for 20 minutes. Wrap and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours or keep in the refrigerator overnight.

Garnish with slices of lime and a whole habanero in the center.