Alice’s dessert was so beautifully light, fresh and delicious. This dessert is not light or fresh but is delicious…and rich and decadent. As we are heading into our Thanksgiving week here in the US, it’s a time to indulge in all those rich, decadent foods that you steer clear of the rest of the year.
If you have never made a cheesecake, you might think it’s difficult but it really is not that hard. It’s involved, yes, but not difficult. You’ll make this one in three separate steps – crust, filling and caramel topping. So jump on in and give it a try.
You will need a spring form pan for this. They can be found at most house ware stores. I got mine at Target.
First, you’ll need to make the crust. This crust is a fun change from the traditional graham cracker crust – it calls for ginger snaps. I like the thin little ginger cookies that you can get at IKEA, so that’s what I used. I put them in a zipper bag and crushed them with a rolling pin. Actually, I used a wine bottle, which is what I use as a rolling pin when I can’t find mine.
Melt the butter and combine with the crushed cookies and brown sugar. Remember to pack your brown sugar into the measuring utensil to get the proper measurement.
Pat the crust mixture into the bottom of the spring form pan, making sure to get up to the edges. Then wrap the bottom and sides of the spring form pan in aluminum foil. Later you’ll be baking it in a water bath, so this prevents the water from getting into your cake.
Bake the crust at 350°F (175°C) for 14 minutes until it is slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool, keeping the oven at temperature.
In the meantime, mix together your filling – the actual cheesecake part. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer to easily blend all of the ingredients.
First beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Then add the butter and drop the eggs in one by one before adding the vanilla.
When everything is fully combined, pour the filling over the crust and place the pan into a larger pan, adding about one inch of water to the larger pan to make a water bath. This will keep the cheesecake from cracking and will give you a beautifully creamy final result.
Bake for an hour and 10 minutes, until the top shakes slightly when jiggled and is lightly browned.
Remove pan from water bath, remove foil from pan and place hot cheesecake uncovered into the refrigerator overnight.
And now on to the caramel topping. It’s amazing to me that a few simple ingredients can make such a wonderfully complex and rich caramel!
Stir water, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has all dissolved, then turn up the heat to bring it to a boil. Let it boil without stirring until the syrup turns a deep amber color, about 9 minutes.
Pour in the cream and reduce the heat. Let it simmer until thickened and reduced a bit, about 8 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the caramel cool for about 15 minutes before pouring onto the top of the cheesecake.
Pour the caramel over the cheesecake and spread in a smooth layer. You can sprinkle some sea salt over the top for a wonderful sweet/salty flavor. If you have any of the caramel left over, it also makes for a tasty topping for ice cream.
Chop up toffee bars – I used mini Heath Bars – and sprinkle around the top edges of the cake.
Let the cheesecake chill for at least two hrs or overnight.
Remove the spring form pan ring and serve.
If you are celebrating a special occasion, you can put a candle in it and sing Happy Birthday to your dear friend before cutting into it.
Alice, I don’t know if you could handle all this richness! Where can we go from here?
Toffee Crunch Caramel Cheesecake
Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies (about 7 1/4 ounces)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 1.4-ounce English toffee candy bars (such as Heath or Skor), chopped
For gingersnap crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 9-inch springform pan with 2 1/2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Stir ground cookies, butter, and sugar in medium bowl until moist clumps form. Press cookie mixture firmly onto bottom of prepared pan. Wrap outside of pan with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Bake crust until firm and beginning to darken, about 14 minutes. Cool crust. Maintain oven temperature.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in butter, then eggs, 1 at a time, until just blended. Beat in vanilla. Pour batter over crust in pan. Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake cake uncovered until filling is puffed around edges and moves slightly in center when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove pan from water; remove foil. Place hot cheesecake uncovered in refrigerator overnight.
For caramel topping:
Stir sugar, water, and lemon juice in large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until mixture turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 9 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until reduced to 1 1/4 cups, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Chill until thickened but still pourable, about 15 minutes.
Spoon caramel over top of cake just to edges (do not allow caramel to drip down sides). Garnish top edges with chopped English toffee. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.
Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides.