Caramel Cheesecake

  • Time: 2 hours
  • Serves: 12
  • Level: medium

‘…This is show stopping finish to any special occasion. The perfect blend of sweet and savoury takes this dessert to another level… and just the right sweetness to have two slices, so I did.’

Pete
'The best Caramel Cheesecake you will ever make. Trust us, it's worth it!'

What you need

For the cake – all at room temperature

450g full fat cream cheese

450g smooth ricotta cheese

200g full fat creme fraiche

250g soured cream

225g caster sugar

4 large eggs

3 tbs corn flour

3 tbs plain white flour

120g unsalted butter softened

1tsp vanilla

Juice of half a lemon

1 or 2 jars Joe & Seph’s gin and tonic caramel sauce or 250g of any proprietary caramel – see notes in method.

For the base

225g digestive biscuits

125g demerara sugar

60g melted butter

For the icing

200ml double cream

150ml soured cream

35g icing sugar

Squeeze of lemon

 

 



Dad's Recipe Tales

Will the real cheesecake please stand up?
Some say there are as many cheesecakes recipes as there are bakers. If this is true, then we can be forgiven our bewilderment over the immense canon of cheesecake variables . What exactly is a cheesecake? Which is best? Why are they so different?

Cheese in a cake?
A cheesecake is not the dry crumbly cake we normally associate with cake. This is because cheese is too dense to allow eggs to rise. The eggs tend to set, in a custard-like manner, making a moist cake. Further, cheese is not a very intuitive choice for a sweet cake. The sugar conflicts with the flavour of the cheese. Therefore lighter fresh cheeses are used, such as cream cheese, curd cheese, ricotta or even fresh goats cheese.

To cook or not to cook?
You can do both. In cooked versions the eggs ‘set’ the cake. (Some cakes use beaten egg whites to create a lighter texture.) Uncooked cakes use either gelatine or stiff whipped creams which ‘set’ when chilled. Cooked types have a denser texture and richer taste than lighter ‘chilled’ versions.

And what about a crust?
Cheesecakes can have a pastry crust, a crumb crust or no crust at all. The pastry can be shortcrust or sweet and the crumb crust can be baked or chilled. Perhaps the crust is the element passed-down in family recipes that helps define your idea of a cheesecake. My memories are of an American-style dense cake with a thick biscuit crumb base (usually made with Graham Crackers). When living in the UK, I would scoff at the idea of an ‘English’ tearoom-style cheesecake which was quite dry, made in a shortcrust pastry and served at room temperature. The archetypical New York-style cheesecake comes from Lindy’s deli in New York and is made with a pâte sucrée crust on the bottom and sides.

And the rest?
The New York cheesecake will often be piled with fresh fruits or enrobed with set fruits in a thickened jelly glaze. Fruit can also be used with a lighter chilled-style cheesecake. This can even be adapted into a kind of parfait and served in a glass. Some styles include a soured cream icing. Other styles will benefit from just a simple dusting of icing sugar.

Of course the fresh sweetness of cream cheese is a great foil for other flavours especially chocolate and caramel. These can be incorporated into the cake mixture or poured over the top as a thick coating or runny sauce.

Having made a few cheesecakes, I am much more comfortable with my understanding of genre. I am very proud to add my own version into the immense canon of cheesecake variables…

How Dad Cooked It

This is really good. Make it in advance – it gets better with time.

I’ve used a Joe & Seph’s caramel sauce. The sauce is excellent but this recipe is based on mixing caramel with cheesecake, something that has been done since there was cheesecake. So if you cannot get hold of a jar of Joe & Seph’s, by all means use another proprietary form of caramel. (There are a several versions available in supermarkets, marketed as spreadable caramel, dipping caramel, dulce de leche, carnation caramel. Any thick caramel, butterscotch or toffee sauce will work. Alternatively, caramel can also be made at home by heating sugar until browned, adding cream and butter (a pinch of salt) and cooking down. Or by boiling a tin of condensed milk for 2 – 3 hrs.)

  1. Pre heat oven to 180C, Gas 4
  2. Grease a spring form pan. 10 inch or 25 cm
  3. Make the crumb crust. Whiz the biscuits to a crumb in a processor or blender (or bash with a rolling pin in a plastic bag). Add the crumbs, sugar and butter together in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Put the crumbs in the pan and pat down. Use a flat tool to compress and flatten evenly in the pan. Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes until it has hardened and is just beginning to brown. Leave aside to cool. Reduce the heat to 130C, Gas 1/2 – put a baking tray with an a couple cm of water at the bottom of the oven.
  4. Make the cake mixture. Using a mixer beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs combining each until the mixture is smooth. Add the flours and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese and ricotta until smooth then add the soured cream and lemon and mix until smooth. Add to the egg and sugar mix and beat until smooth.
  5. Prepare and cook the cheesecake. Pour the mix into the prepared pan. Tap the pan to settle. Heat the caramel very gently (depending on the type of caramel you are using – this may or may not be necessary) for Joe & Seph’s use a medium heat in the microwave for 20 secs. or place in a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes. Stir the caramel and pour just under half evenly over the cheese cake mixture. Using a spoon evenly marble the caramel into the mix. Do this slowly and briefly – the ideas is to marble the caramel in the mixture – not blend it into the mix. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the cake in the oven undisturbed for 8 hours.
  6. Chill the cheesecake. Put the cheesecake into the fridge and cool for 2 or 3 hours.
  7. Finish the caramel cheesecake. In a large bowl whisk the cream until it starts to stiffen. Slowly mix with the soured cream, sugar and lemon until well blended. Taste and adjust for sweetness and lemon – it should be tangy and sweet. Continue to whisk if necessary to create a firm but smooth icing. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and place on a serving dish. Ice the top of the cheesecake with the icing and smooth to a flat finish with a palette knife. If possible chill again for an hour in the fridge.
  8. Add the caramel. Gently heat the caramel again until it just reaches a dripping consistency. Too hot and it will spread out thinly, too cool and it will not pour. Ideally, transfer the caramel to a plastic bottle with narrow spout so that it is possible to create an even flow of caramel. If presenting the whole cheesecake the remaining half jar will be needed to create a pattern over the cheesecake. If presenting in individual decorate each slice as it is served. The cake is perfectly good with a single jar of sauce – but you will find people naturally ask for more sauce. It may be prudent to have reserves in the form of a 2nd jar of sauce.

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