Sunday, December 1, 2019

Baker's Corner: Caramel Pecan Cheesecake


Does it feel like the holidays already? To me, it sure does! A little over two weeks before I pack my bags and head home with my family to visit the rest of my family 😊

December is usually not the month for restrictive eating, what say folks? 😁 I've had sugar on my mind lately and when it comes to dessert, my mind never strays too far away from cake. And when we are talking about cake, the visual of my favourite cheesecake is the first that bombards my senses. 


I've blogged different kinds of cheesecake recipes. The classic New York Cheesecake, the exotic White Chocolate-Yuzu Cheesecake, the pillowy soft Japanese Cheesecake, the chocolate infused American Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake and even a berry-infused cheesecake sitting on a brownie aka Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies.

I told you I had a thing for cheesecake, didn't I? 😉


I had no idea what variation to attempt next so I asked my husband. He thought for exactly 10 seconds and blurted out "Caramel Pecan Cheesecake". I love caramel, I love pecans and I love cheesecake so my immediate thought was - that's such a great idea! Alas! it didn't turn out to be original coz I found out that there are several recipes already out there. I took inspiration from a few of them but trust me when I say that this carefully curated recipe for the cheesecake is my own. 

You must know that I don't like my desserts cloyingly sweet. I've said that over and over again. While making this cheesecake, I wanted to control the amount of sweetness in the cheesecake filling because I was going to be topping the finished cheesecake with a homemade caramel sauce which, let's admit, is sugar incarnate. I also didn't want to go the salted caramel route because the cheesecake naturally tends to be a tad salty thanks to the cream cheese. I added only a dash of sea salt to my caramel sauce to offset the sweetness without rendering a salty taste. 


With the toasty crunch from the pecans, the buttery sweet caramel sauce, the mildly sweet and salty luscious cheesecake filling and the flavourful graham cracker crust, this dessert came together perfectly. 

Christmas and New Year is coming up so what are you waiting for people? 😃

Caramel Pecan Pie Cheesecake 

Prep Time: 30 min; Cook Time: ~ 45 min
Total Time: 1 hour 15 min (plus additional cooling & refrigeration time)
Servings: ~ 8
Recipe category: Western\Dessert
Recipe level: Easy 

Ingredients:

For the crust
1-1/2 cups  graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup (5 tbsp) unsalted  butter melted
1/4 cups  granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
A pinch of cinnamon powder

For the filling
21 oz (600gm) full-fat cream cheese 
1/2 cups  granulated sugar
1 tsp  vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tbsp  all purpose flour
1/2 tsp  cinnamon powder
1/8 teaspoons  nutmeg

For the topping
1 cup  pecan halves lightly toasted
1 cup good quality caramel sauce (see recipe below)

Method:
1. Get all your ingredients ready. Preheat oven to 160 deg C (325 deg F).


2. Wrap a 8-inch springform pan with one large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil such that it is covering the underside and extending all the way to the top. Repeat with another sheet of foil for double coverage. Spray the base & sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray or grease well with butter.


3. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients for the crust until moist. Press into the prepared springform pan and refrigerate till set. 



4. For the filling, in a stand mixer, whip cream cheese, and sugar together until smooth. With the mixer on low, stir in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl and stir again. Whip in flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Scrape sides and stir again if necessary. Pour filling into prepared crust and smooth the top. 




5. Set the cheesecake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour the boiling water into the large roasting pan to come about 1 inch up the side of the cake pan. Bake until the cake is just set, about 40-45 min (the cake should not look liquidy at all but will wobble just a bit when the pan is nudged; it will continue to cook as it cools). Remove from oven and cool completely to room temperature.



6. Toast the pecans in a pan on low flame. Arrange pecan halves over top entire cheesecake in concentric circles (or whichever way you want!). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for eight hours.



7. Once ready to serve, run a knife around edges of the cheesecake and remove sides of the springform pan. 


8. To serve you can either drizzle 1 cup of caramel syrup over entire cheesecake and cut (with extra syrup to serve along with) or cut first and drizzle individual pieces.


Notes:
  • Always buy full-fat cream cheese. Cheesecake is not the place to skimp on calories by using the light versions of ingredients!
  • Cooling the cheesecake after baking in the roasting pan is very important. If you don't have patience, you will end up with a cracked cheesecake
  • You HAVE to chill the cheesecake for at least 8 hours. Overnight will be ideal. 
  • Making Ahead: The cheesecake can be made and stored in the springform pan in the fridge, tightly covered with plastic wrap, up to two days ahead of time. The cheesecake may also be frozen for up to 3 months
  • To freeze: place the cake in the freezer briefly, unwrapped, to firm it up. Then double-wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in heavy-duty freezer bag

Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 cup
Recipe source: Adapted from here

Ingredients
1 cup (200gm) granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons (90gm) salted butter, room temperature cut up into 6 pieces
1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
1/4 tsp sea salt

Method:
1. Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.


2. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.


3. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes. If you notice the butter separating, remove from heat and vigorously whisk to combine it again. (If you’re nervous for splatter, wear kitchen gloves).


4. Very slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble when added. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.


5. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 tsp sea salt. Allow to slightly cool down before using. The caramel thickens as it cools.

6. Cover tightly and store for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove to desired consistency.



That's a wrap folks! I hope you try this dessert and love it as much as we did!


Cheers,
Megha


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