Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set an rack in the middle of the oven. Place a baking pan on a rack below this. Boil a kettle of water.
Mix the crumbs and salt together, then add butter to make the mixture hold together but remain slightly crumbly. Set aside 1/4 cup for topping and press the rest into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Set aside.
Roast the habaneros over an open flame and set them to steam under a towel. When cool enough to handle, peel and deseed. (The usual warnings about fans, maybe even gloves, goes here.) Pound in a mortar with 2 T. sugar until you have a coarse paste.
Cream the cream cheese, then add the sugar and salt. Beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add the cream. Beat the zest and lime juice into the filling. Add the habanero paste last and beat until well mixed. Pour into the crust. Gently tap the pan to level out the filling. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the top.
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 from the oven and let 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.
(Since my wife cooks by taste and eye, and every time she makes it she fiddles with the recipe, some of these measurements are a bit of a guess.)
From: David Cook, email@example.com
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