This isn’t just any caramel cheesecake recipe I present to you today. My cheesecake has caramel inside and on top. This is a caramel lovers dream.
A few months ago I was contacted by Walkers Shortbread for a recipe challenge using different varieties of their shortbread cookies. Having grown up eating their amazingly delicious cookies, I immediately said yes to the challenge. I mean, we all know that I love recipe challenges after all!
The challenge was to create a new dessert using their shortbread – we would meet in person and compete against bloggers in the NYC community. Well, due to unforeseen circumstances (ahem, superstorm Sandy) the in-person part of the competition has been pushed back until we can find a date that works for everyone involved again.
For the time being, I couldn’t wait any longer to share my recipe. The first thing that came to mind was to make a cheesecake with high walls of cookie crust on the outside. The second thing that came to mind – caramel. I thought it would compliment the buttery cookies perfectly. I subbed most of the sugar you find in the cheesecake with a lovely salted butter caramel and then finished with just a touch of brown sugar to balance some of the bitterness found in the caramel.
This recipe is scaled down from my first round of trials to fit a 7 inch by 2.5 high spring form pan. If all you have is a 9 or 10 inch just double everything and you’ll be good to go, but I’m tell you right now, this makes a lot of cheesecake, but whatever you do if you double the recipe, don’t double the cook time! Just add 15 more minutes and you’ll be good to go!
Three things for a successful cheesecake. 1)Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature. It will make creaming them together much easier and will give you a smooth batter. 2) You need a water bath. The steam created in the oven will prevent any cracks from forming and a light texture. 3) DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN. I don't mean to yell, but this is important. Opening the oven door lets the steam escape and you are more like to get a big crack in the center.
1 box Walkers Pure Butter Vanilla Shortbread Cookies
2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake
2 8oz blocks cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup caramel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup caramel
Walkers Belgian Chocolate Chunk Biscuits
For the caramel:
In a heavy bottomed pan over medium-low heat melt the sugar until it begins to caramelize and turn golden brown. It is important you do not walk away from the stove while cooking the sugar, as it can turn from a solid state to burnt instantly.
Once it is fully caramelized remove from the heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Place the pot back on the heat and stir together. The caramel may seize up, in that case, just cook it out until it is liquid again. Stir in the butter, until melted and add the salt and vanilla extract. Set aside to cool.
For the crust:
Butter or spray your springform pan and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a food processor, pulse the cookies until they are completely broken down into a fine crumble and add the sugar and melted butter. Pulse a few more times until the mixture is like wet sand.
Dump into the springform pan and press firmly into the bottom and sides, going all the way up to the top of the pan.
Bake for 8-10 minutes for a nice golden color. Remove to cool.
For the cheesecake:
Lower the temperature of the oven to 325 and bring water to boil in a teakettle.
Take your cooled crust and with a few layers of aluminum foil, wrap the bottom and sides, so no water will leak inside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer or using a hand mixer with a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and brown sugar until light and airy about 3-4 minutes. Then add the sour cream and eggs 1 at a time until well combined.
Scrape down the sides and bottom and with the mixer running, drizzle in the caramel, and then finally the vanilla and pinch of salt.
Scrape everything together again and pour into the prepared pan.
Place the springform pan into a larger pan and put both into the oven. Pour the boiling water into the larger pan so that it reaches about halfway up.
Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes or until the middle no longer jiggles.
Remove and let cool completely (about two hours) before removing from the pan.
To top, drizzle the remaining 1/2 cup of caramel on the top and decorate with crushed Belgian Chocolate Chunk Biscuits.