TOFFEE CHEESECAKE WITH CARAMEL SAUCE
Anybody who knows me will tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate desserts. With the exception of a few, very special sweets in our family recipe book, I vastly prefer those confections featuring toffee, nuts, or citrus. So, when it came time to decide what dessert to have with our Christmas dinner this year, my family came to a bit of brick wall. Having already eaten pumpkin and pecan pie during Thanksgiving, we were all in the mood for something a little different this time around. With ideas like an apple galette and bread pudding being thrown around, each option seemed to fall flat the second it was introduced — keeping with tradition, we were a bit indecisive. It wasn’t until my sister insisted upon a dessert that included caramel in some form or another that my Mom suddenly remembered a recipe from an old Bon Appétite that she used to make years ago for special occasions — Toffee Cheesecake.
I don’t think I need to tell you how good this cheesecake really is. I mean, caramel sauce? Whipped cream? Skor bar!? What’s not to like? The one thing I can say is that this is an extremely rich dessert of which a little goes a long way. Next time you have a special occasion on the horizon, consider making this decadent dessert which will easily feed 10-12 guests.
TOFFEE CHEESECAKE WITH CARAMEL SAUCE
From the Old Porte Inn, Avila Beach, California
There are very few tips or techniques I can offer you for this recipe. Follow the directions closely and you should end up with outstanding results. I will offer this insight however; if you’re going to go all out and make such a decadent dessert, don’t bother trying to cut caloric corners using low-fat cream cheese. If you want truly spectacular cheesecake filling, go one step further and seek out natural, old-fashioned cream cheese that is free of stabilizers. When whipping the cheese, make sure to do so until very fluffy as this will produce an especially delightful final texture. After baking, the cheesecake will sink a bit in the center. Don’t worry though, the final cake will look perfectly level after it is filled with a pool of delicious caramel sauce. If you’re into the whole salted caramel thing, do what I did and add a bit of sea salt to the caramel sauce for a salty-sweet finish. Finally, this cake does just fine fully dressed and decorated in the fridge, so don’t be afraid to make it a full day ahead of when you plan on serving it.
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 1.4 ounce toffee candy bars (such as Skor or Heath) broken into pieces
For the Crust:
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Lightly butter inside of a 9 in. diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch sides.
- Combine crumbs, butter and brown sugar in a small bowl.
- Press crumbs over bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the pan.
- Refrigerate the crust.
For the Filling:
- Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy.
- Add sugar and beat until smooth.
- Beat in eggs, 1 at a time.
- Mix in vanilla extract and fresh lemon juice.
- Pour filling into prepared crust, and bake until cake rises about 1/2 inch over rim and the center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hr 15 min.
- Cool on a rack (the cake will fall as it cools, sinking in the center)
- Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours. These steps can be done 1 day ahead.
For the Topping:
- Heat sugar and water in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
- Increase the heat and boil without stirring until mixture is a rich, amber color, occasionally swirling and washing down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water, about 8 minutes.
- Reduce heat to very low. Add cream (mixture will bubble up) and stir until smooth.
- Mix in butter. Cool slightly. Mix in vanilla.
To Assemble the Cheesecake:
- Using a small, sharp knife, cut around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Release the pan sides.
- Pour 2/3 cup of the caramel sauce over the cake from the center spreading outward to the edges.
- Cover the remaining caramel sauce and let stand at room temperature.
- Chill cake until caramel topping is set, about 2 hours.
- Whip 3/4 cup cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar in a medium bowl until firm peaks form.
- Spoon cream into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe cream, decoratively around the edge of the cake.
- Arrange toffee pieces in the whipped cream border. Refrigerate until serving.
- Cut cake into wedges. Serve, passing the remaining caramel sauce separately.
Makes 10 generous servings