Recently, I’ve become totally obsessed with salted caramel. The salty and sweet hits all the right places on your tastebuds and you experience a moment of roll-your-eyes-back-in-your-head delight. There are a few other treats that I love that much…rich dark chocolate ganache…cheesecake full of luscious Philly cream cheese…sugary crisp graham cracker crusts…putting them all together seemed like then right thing to do for the good of humanity. Or at least people who like cheesecake.
This particular cheesecake recipe is fantastic, but does call for a lot of ingredients. And when we need bulk, we tend to head off to our local Sam’s Club to stock up. This time our trip is for eggs, heavy cream and Philadelphia cream cheese. I like using the lidded variety of cream cheese because if we only use a tablespoon or two, the cream cheese gets completely resealed instead of getting all crusty in the foil wrapper. (The kids also love using the empty tubs for resealable paint pots.)
When I went to buy my cream cheese in bulk this time, I was delighted to see that Philadelphia cream cheese is now being sold in a 4 pack instead of a 3 pack. It’s the same amount at same price, but all that cream cheese stays fresh a bit longer with multiple tubs. That’s especially important if you’re using it a little at a time to spread on your bagels. For today’s trip, though, cream cheese is for more important things–like cheesecake.
The beautiful caramel sauce used in this recipe is flexible…you’ll find yourself using any excuse to make up another batch. But most likely, your excuse will be that you sat with a spoon and ate the whole jar you just made and now need some more for the cake. Not that I’ve done that or anything (ahem.) The original creator of this caramel recipe is Brown Eyed Baker. I’ve not tasted better. I will probably be making and jarring up this caramel for Christmas presents this year. It’s THAT GOOD. If you’re crazy, or just crazy busy, buy yourself a jar of caramel sauce and skip this step. But it’s totally worth the effort. The entire cheesecake recipe is after the pictorial break.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream at room temp
- 1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
Set a medium-sized saucepan on medium-high on the stove. Pour the 2 cups of sugar into the pan and continually whisk as it melts–eventually you will have a pan full of (hot) liquid sugar.
Once you get to the liquid stage, you can stop mixing and let the sugar cook on it’s own until it’s a deep amber color. But you’ll probably want to pop in a candy thermometer (shame on me, I use my meat thermometer and it works just fine) and take it off the stove when the sugar hits 350 degrees if you aren’t a great judge of what “amber” is.
At 350 degrees, you’re going to add the butter. Drop it in and stand back! The butter is going to make all that sugar hiss and spit for a second or two, but after it’s finished with its show you’ll need to whisk the butter into the sugar until it’s completely blended.
Take the pan off the stove and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. The cream gives this caramel a rich taste and texture. Get your handy whisk back out and mix until the cream is incorporated and your sauce is smooth. Add the sea salt and mix.
Before using the caramel, you’ll need to let it cool for at least 10 minutes. Store it in a glass jar. You can refrigerate the caramel for up to 2 weeks; heat it up a bit before using!
Hopefully a few photos convinced you making this might be worth a shot. I promise you, it is. Just have a few friends in mind to share the love with when you do!
The basis for this cheesecake recipe comes to you courtesy of my father-in-law, Jeff. Any family gathering we’ve ever had he’s made one of his fabulous cheesecakes for it, and they always quickly disappear. He was nice enough to share his original recipe with me, and it is totally the inspiration for this creation. The recipe went through a few tweaks, but retains the creamy oh-so-good texture and taste of his original.
- 2 1/2 cup graham cracker crimbs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 cups salted caramel
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 7 eggs
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- CHOCOLATE GANACHE
- 12 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup salted caramel
- Pretzel rods
- Melted white chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix graham crackers, sugar, and butter until well blended. Press mixture into a large capacity 9-inch springform pan.
2. Make the filling: In an electric mixer, beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth. In a separate bowl combine cream, flour, eggs, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat together, then pour mixture into cream cheese mixture. Add the 3/4 cup caramel to the cream cheese blend. Mix well, and pour into prepared graham cracker crust.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes. Turn off the oven and cool in the oven for 30 minutes. Chill until firm.
4. To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a food processor and pulse until chocolate if finely chopped and looks mealy. Heat the cream in a saucepan on the stove until it starts to bubble. Pour the cream into the chocolate and pulse until smooth. Let cool for 15 minutes before using, but use while still warm.
5. Assemble! Pour the ganache over the cheesecake; pour the chocolate onto the center of the cheesecake and let the chocolate drift over the sides. Clean up is easiest for pouring ganache if you place the cake on a rack over a foil-lined cookie sheet. After you finish pouring your ganache, set the cake in the refrigerator to set.
6. Once the chocolate is, firm, place crushed pretzels on the chocolate in whatever arrangement you choose. Drizzle with melted white chocolate and caramel sauce.
Chocolate salted caramel cheesecake recipe goodness, brought to you courtesy of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holidays!