It was love at first sight. I saw a post on Instagram of this cheesecake and knew I had to give it a try. And I did. There is no turning back. And to think, I am not a cheesecake fan.
The post belonged to Lindsay Cochran, whom I call the cheesecake queen. This lady bakes amazing desserts and makes such clever cheesecake flavour combinations. I was intrigued by her caramel pecan cheese cake. I used walnuts instead with great results. I followed all her tips about the caramel layer, like adding flour to keep it from being runny. I used my own cheesecake recipe which I have developed over the years.
What you see in the picture is a heavenly dessert. Buttery, nutty, creamy, pure bliss. And as I said, I am not a cheesecake fan. Or was.
For the base:
- 250 gr digestive biscuits, crashed
- 30 gr walnuts, roughly chopped
- 100 gr unsalted butter, melted
For the caramel layer:
- 420 gr granulated sugar
- 100 gr water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 125 gr unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 300 gr cream
- 40 gr flour
- 30 gr walnuts, roughly chopped
For the cheesecake:
- 50 gr soft light brown sugar
- 200 gr granulated sugar
- 800 gr philadelphia style cheese
- 300 gr sour cream
- 5 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
Optional chocolate drizzle:
- 40 gr dark chocolate, chopped
- 50 gr cream, warmed
Preheat oven to 180 C fan. Using greaseproof paper, line the base of a 23 cm cake pan with removable sides. Wrap the outside of the pan with 3 layers of aluminum foil. This will prevent the water from sneaking into the pan while you bake the cheesecake. This dessert is baked in a water bath (bain marie).
Make the base: Mix the crashed biscuits and walnuts with the melted butter until everything is moistened. Press the mixture over the base and sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside until needed. Reduce oven temperature to 160 C
Make the caramel layer: In a heavy based pot or saucepan, put sugar, water and lemon juice. Cook over low-medium heat, until it begins to simmer. Without stirring, let it simmer until sugar reaches a deep amber colour and a flavourful caramel is formed. Remove from heat and add the butter, stirring constantly. Be very careful! Caramel is HOT. Add the salt and the cream. Keep stirring until cream is incorporated. If caramel solidifies (cream might be cold) just return it to the heat briefly and stir until it’s dissolved and mixture is smooth.
Measure 300 grams of the caramel into a heatproof jar. Set aside. Mix remaining caramel with the flour and chopped walnuts. Pour over the base of the cheesecake. Put in the fridge to cool while you prepare the cheesecake mixture.
Make the cheesecake mixture: In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer, blend sugars and cheese until soft and fluffy. Add sour cream and beat to incorporate. Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat just until eggs are incorporated and mixture is smooth.
Pour cheesecake mixture over the caramel in the pan. Place pan in a larger pan. Fill larger pan with boiling water to reach half way up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake at 160 C for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cheesecake may be a little wobbly in the centre but it will thicken as it cools.
Remove pan from water bath. Leave cheesecake to cool to room temperature. Spoon over 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved caramel and place in the fridge for 6 hours.
To serve: Run a knife all the way around the pan to release the sides. Transfer cold cheesecake on a serving platter. Drizzle over the chocolate ganache (if using) and sprinkle with walnuts. Serve with pride.