Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Turtle Cheesecake

A colleague requested a cheesecake with caramel, chocolate and pecans for her birthday. After reading at least a dozen recipes, I liked none of them, so I came up with my own way to do this - a graham cracker crust made with brown sugar for extra caramel flavor, layers of caramel, chocolate and toasted pecans both top and bottom, and a rich, vanilla cheesecake layer. 

It's easier than it sounds, thanks to Smucker's Hot Fudge and Hot Caramel sauces. A lot of the recipes I read called for unwrapping Kraft caramels and melting them in evaporated milk - why do all that work when Smucker's has already done it? (Especially when caramels are hard to find in some areas when it's not Halloween!) 

So here it is - my version of Turtle Cheesecake. Remember there are secrets to helping a cheesecake turn out smoothly, without cracking - greasing the sides of the pan, adding cornstarch to stabilize the batter, not over-beating the eggs and adding a pan of water to the oven. If it still cracks, and it may, that's what whipped cream is for. You also won't be using the entirety of either jar of sauce - they will be useful if the cheesecake cracks despite your best efforts! 

Tip: Toast pecans while the cheesecake crust bakes! 

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs or Oreo crumbs
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine 

Heat oven to 350. Melt butter and stir in vanilla. With a fork, mix crumbs and brown sugar, being careful to eliminate any lumps. Combine butter and crumb mixtures. Press into the bottom only of a 9 inch springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool. 

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted at 350 for 8-10 minutes and chopped coarsely 
  • 4  8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla 
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch 
  • 1 jar Smucker's Hot Fudge ice cream topping, at room temperature
  • 1 jar Smucker's Hot Caramel ice cream topping, at room temperature 

Dollop spoonfuls of the hot fudge and hot caramel onto the cooled crust. Swirl with a spatula and sprinkle with half the chopped toasted pecans. 

In a large mixing bowl at high speed, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugars until well mixed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until well mixed. Mix in the vanilla. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the batter and stir in by hand. Mix at high speed for 30 seconds.

Spray the ring of the cheesecake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour batter into pan. Drop more spoonfuls of the chocolate and caramel toppings onto the batter and swirl with a sharp-edged knife. Sprinkle with the remaining pecans. 

While you make the cheesecake batter, heat the oven to 350 again if you turned it off. Put a 9x13 baking pan or roasting pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Bring at least 4 cups of water to a boil and pour into the pan BEFORE putting the cheesecake in the oven. Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes and take out of the oven when it is just set in the middle. Let cool completely, at least two hours, and then refrigerate at least hours before serving. 

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