Monday, June 29, 2009

Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

I don’t know why I’m telling y’all this recipe.

If Optimus Prime was a cheesecake, he would be this cheesecake. Wesley would leave Buttercup for this cheesecake. I don’t even like cheesecake and I like this cheesecake. [It’s good cheesecake].

Making a cheesecake for the first time is an awesome adventure. You can read up on it and do all sorts of research, but you have to really do it to experience the glory of cheesecake making. I have learned this first hand, as this was the first cheesecake I ever made. I wisely decided to go ahead and modify the recipe straight off. (My GOODNESS I'm a cheeky baker).

You Will Need:

For the crust-

  • 3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

For the first layer:

  • 1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 package individually wrapped caramels OR caramel chips.
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • Chocolate chips (as many as your heart desires) (Also optional)

For the cheesecake:

  • 2 packages cream cheese, softened (16 ounces total)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust:
Mix together the vanilla wafer crumbs, melted butter and brown sugar. Press into a 9 inch springform pan. Make sure you go up the sides, as well, otherwise things will get sticky up in here. I usually have a little crust mix left over. This is okay.

A side note: A springform pan is the kind with the latch release to make a standy-uppy cake. If you don’t have one, a pie tin will do, but I don’t guarantee your results. Also: I don't mean to treat the more experienced cooks like morons. But these are the things that I didn't know before I started baking. So I'm just trying to spread a little nooby love.

Once your crust is pressed into place, throw it in the oven for about 10 minutes. Let cool while you do the other stuff. (This step ensures your crust won’t get soggy later on. No one likes a soggy crust.)

For the filling:

Step One:

Mix the caramels and evaporated milk together in a saucepan. Melt over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once melted through, pour into the crust and add pecans if it pleases you. Save about 1/4 of a cup of the caramel for later on. (If you’re allergic to nuts or whatevs, omit the pecans. Consider replacing with the chocolate chips. Or put in both. It’s your cheesecake. No one’s going to tell you what to do.) Set caramel aside and let cool in the crust while you move on to….

Step Two ( with a lesson in cheesecaking).

The object of a good cheesecake is to create a silky-smooth cake without the dreaded “Top Cracks”. Now, I’ve made a lot of cheesecakes that have cracked, and the earth has not exploded. No one has refused a bite of triple chocolate mint cheesecake because the top was a little cracky. However, if you want the super sexy “Cheesecake Factory” professional look, you gotta do this right.To do this right, here’s your plan of action.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a large bowl that fits in your mixer, combine your cream cheese and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

2. While you’re beating your cream cheese like it burned the pot roast, melt your chocolate chips.

3. Add in sugar, beat again.

4. Add in each egg separately, and beat again.

5. Once you’ve beaten everything together, beat in the melted chocolate.

6. Pour on top of caramel pecan(maybe) layer and prepare to bake.

Step Three

Baking a cheesecake is ridiculously easy, contrary to everything ever written online. The first time I made a cheesecake I spent hours researching and all I ended up with was a headache and twice as confused as I was before. There are a billion different ways to do this right. Basically it comes down to your style of baking, your oven, the cheesecake you choose to make , and the weather, and pure undiluted luck. You just gotta keep at it until you find what works best for you.

Here’s what works for me.

Fill a large cake pan with warm water and place in your oven on the bottom shelf. The oven should still be on and preheated to 350 so try not to injure yourself doing this. I usually do.

Place cheesecake in oven.

Set your timer for 40 minutes.

When timer dings, take out your creation and run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake from the sides. CAREFULLY! The caramel will be sticky. Check the center of the cheesecake. If it looks gooey, you may have to throw it in for a few more minutes.

Let it chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Top with the rest of your caramel, maybe some melted chocolate, whipped c ream, sprinkles, crushed candy canes…whatever floats your boat. I like to top mine with shaved chocolate.

Chocolate Cheese Cake

Chocolate Cheese Cake ( The chili powder doesn't go in this recipe).


A couple of notes:

There is an alternate way of baking your cheesecake that is slightly more complicated, but can lend good results if you have a problem with the top cracking.

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees (instead of 350)

Place cheesecake in oven.

Set your timer for 10 minutes.

When the timer dings, turn your oven down to 250 degrees and let bake for 30 minutes.

When timer dings, turn off oven. Yep. Turn it off. And walk away. Don’t open the oven. Don’t accidentally fall on the handle. Don’t move the oven. Don’t breathe on it. Turn it off and let the cheesecake sit for an hour inside with the oven off.

Follow the rest of the instructions as follows.

If you like your cheesecake cakey-er, throw in a tablespoon of flour. This can also help with cracking.

And in the end…if it cracks? So what? You still made a delicious cheesecake. Everyone wins. Cracks give your cheesecake character.

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