Sunday, March 21, 2010

{ Toffee and Caramel Cheesecake }


If you are looking for the BEST cheesecake ever, look no further. My husband and I hosted a cocktail party on Friday night for his colleagues. Since I had to work all day on Friday, I needed to plan an easy menu that would be enough for folks to substitute for dinner. I prepared two cheese platters with various types of cheeses from sheep, goat and cow’s milk. I adorned each one with madjool dates, blackberries, candied pecans and grapes. Had a large basket of sliced baguettes, both sweet and sourdough. Finished off the savory menu with a antipasto platter with various Italian meats, peppers, olives, tomatoes, mozzarella balls, basil and marinated artichoke hearts.

Okay, you are wondering, where does the cheesecake fit into this cocktail party. Dessert of course. Well, on Wednesday night I prepared the cheesecake, since we were at an event on Thursday night and the cocktail party was scheduled for Friday night. I am already exhausted thinking about all that I accomplished while working too. That is the beauty of the cheesecake – you can make ahead of time and it is a crowd pleaser every time. I asked one of the guests if they enjoyed it, and he said, “I almost ate the plate, by scraping all of the luscious cheesecake from it”. I knew the party was a success and everyone had a great time.

Toffee and Caramel Cheesecake

At least 2 hours before you begin, set the cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream on your kitchen counter because it’s essential that the ingredients be at room temperature before you mix the batter.

Gingersnap cracker crust:

3 C. Ginger snap cookies, finely ground
1/2 cup granulated sugar
10 T. unsalted butter, melted

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Use a food processor to ground the gingersnap cookies.  In a medium bowl, combine the gingersanp crumbs and sugar. Stir in the 10 Tbs. melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan before putting the crust in. This will enable you to slice the finished product from the bottom and transfer to a plate of your choice. Dump the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan that’s about 2-1/2 inches deep and press them firmly into the bottom and about halfway up the sides. Bake until the crust is fragrant and warm to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack while you prepare the cheesecake batter.

Cheesecake:

4 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 C. granulated sugar
2/3 C. brown sugar
1 1/2 t. Cornstarch
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 C. sour cream, at room temperature
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. vanilla extract

Using your kitchen aide mixer or equivalent, beat the cream cheese with the sugar at medium-low speed until the mixture is smooth and somewhat fluffy, approximately 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Beat in the cornstarch. Beat in the eggs on low speed, one at a time, mixing the batter for only 15 to 20 seconds after each egg is added, just until it’s incorporated, and scraping the bowl each time. Don’t overbeat. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat at low speed until well combined.

Baking the cheesecake:

Wrap the outside of the pan tightly with two sheets of extra-wide heavy-duty aluminum foil to make the pan waterproof. Pour the batter into the prepared crust; it should cover the crust completely and come to within about 1/2 inch of the pan’s rim. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan and carefully pour hot water into the roasting pan until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake at 350°F, until the top of the cake is golden brown and the center only has a slight jiggle, about 1 hour 10 min. to 1 hour 15 minutes.

Let the cake cool:

Remove the cheesecake pan from the water bath, remove the foil wrapping and set the pan on a wire rack. Let the cake cool on the rack until barely warm. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours or overnight. The cheesecake will firm up during chilling.

Caramel Sauce:

1 ½ C. sugar
¼ C. water
½ t. lemon juice
1 C. heavy cream

Stir sugar, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat; boil without stirring until the mixture turns deep amber brown. This should take about 9 minutes. Take off the stove and hold over the sink before pouring the cream mixture into the sugar mixture. It will boil and bubble. Once calmed down, add to back to the burner and reduce slightly over medium low heat for about 8 minutes. Chill until thickened. Put into another container and slightly heat when ready to use.

Serve the cheesecake:

Unclasp and remove the side of the springform pan, and then use a wide spatula to transfer the cake to a serving plate. Add the toffee pieces around the top of the cheesecake and push down slightly. The caramel should be slightly warm to spread on the top and just touch the toffee pieces. (I purchased the toffee from Trader Joe's) Put back in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to firm up the caramel. Then slice with a warm knife for clean sliced and run under hot water as needed.



4 comments:

  1. Incredible looking cheesecake - I must try! Thank you for sharing!

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  2. i love everything about this, from the ginger-y crust all they way to the toffee pieces on top. i'd be licking my plate too! it looks glorious, lisa--nicely done!

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  3. Looks like an incredible dessert. Dangerous to know about! Now I'm going to have to try it:)

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