Margarita mama's favorite dessert

Booze and cream cheese combine to make one fabulous treat.

I have a special place in my heart for margaritas, probably due to the fact that I have a fondness for tequila. The palate-pleasing combination of flavors in the drink are what makes this my go-to cocktail on a warm summer day, or at a Mexican restaurant, or during Happy Hour, or when recuperating after a long and stressful day, or ... you get the point.

But cheesecake is another story. I prefer cream cheese spread on a bagel, not in a heaping mouthful, and oftentimes I've found many cheesecakes to taste like a block of straight-up cream cheese. Needless to say, it's the one menu item I always pass up.

So where's the segue from margaritas to cheesecake, you're asking? Margarita cheesecake, my friends! This cheesecake single-handedly changed my mind about cream cheese-laden desserts.

The cake combines the sweet, sour and slightly salty flavors of a margarita with the tanginess of cheesecake, creating a marriage made in dessert heaven. And the best part? There's tequila in it! But don't worry about getting too buzzed from indulging in a slice — most of the alcohol is burned off during baking.

I made a few changes to the original recipe, adding more tequila and triple sec (for flavor purposes, of course), used pretzels for the crust instead of graham crackers to mimic the salty rim on a margarita, and baked the crust before filling it, so it wouldn't get mushy. You could use light cream cheese and sour cream in this recipe, but honestly, if you're going to indulge in cheesecake, you might as well make those calories worth it and skip the light stuff.

Whether you're a cheesecake hater or a diehard fan, I promise that after taking one bite of this culinary concoction, you'll beg for more — and maybe even indulge in a second serving.

Keep this recipe in mind to add to your Cinco de Mayo celebration this year, too. Buen provencho!

Margarita Cheesecake

Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine

Makes one 9-inch cheesecake; serves 10-12

Ingredients:

Crust:

Nonstick cooking spray

1 1/4 cups salted pretzel crumbs

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese

1 cup sour cream

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons triple sec or other orange liqueur

4 tablespoons tequila

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

4 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

Topping:

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/8 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon lime zest

Very thin lime slices, cut in half for garnish

Directions:

1. For the crust, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spray 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with vegetable oil spray. Mix the pretzel crumbs and butter in medium bowl until blended, then press them over the bottom and one inch up sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.

2. For the filling, beat the cream cheese in large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Then mix in sour cream until incorporated, then sugar, triple sec, tequila and lime juice. Beat in eggs next.

3. Pour filling into crust. Bake until outside 2 inches are set and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and turn off oven.

4. Immediately after, whisk sour cream, lime juice and sugar in small bowl to blend and spread evenly over cheesecake. Return cheesecake to hot oven. Let stand 45 minutes or less, then refrigerate cake until well chilled, up to 1 day.

5. To serve, run a knife around pan sides, remove pan sides and place cake on platter. Arrange lime slices around top edge of cheesecake and garnish with lime zest.

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