This is a pecan, caramel, and dark chocolate cheesecake, inspired by the Turtle candies. Though somewhat modified, the original recipe can be found here: Ultimate turtle cheesecake. The main modification is that I've made the caramel from scratch. Enjoy!
Step 1: What You'll Need:
- 250 mL (1 cup) granulated white sugar
- 1 - 6 cm cube salted butter (roughly half a standard stick of butter; margarine doesn't substitute well)
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) whipping cream
- ~150 mL water
- 3 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese - room temperature (light works okay too)
- 500 mL (2 cups) chocolate cookie crumbs
- ~ 175 mL melted butter (margarine is fine here)
- 250 mL (1 cup) chopped pecans
- 200 mL (3/4 cup) white sugar
- 25 mL vanilla extract (please don't substitute)
- 3 eggs
- one quarter of a 100 g bar of dark chocolate (I like bittersweet, but semi-sweet works too)
Step 2: Caramel Sauce: Melt the Sugar
Before you begin, you should have the whipping cream and butter measured out and ready to pour; sugar can go from caramel to charred mess pretty quickly, so it's important to do this in advance. Bear in mind that sugar starts to melt at 186°C, and can cause nasty burns.
In a large saucepan, place the 250 mL of sugar with about 150 mL of water and stir to mix. You'll need some room for the mixture to bubble up, so make sure the pot is large enough that there is at least 10 cm above the level of the sugar mixture. Heat on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or whisk. Eventually, the water will evapourate and you'll end up with sort of a sugary paste. Soon the sugar will start to melt. When it is completely melted, it should have a brownish colour and should smell like caramel.
Step 3: Caramel Sauce: Add Butter
When the sugar has completely melted, carefully add the butter without delay. Stir until the butter is completely melted. The mixture may foam up considerably.
Step 4: Caramel Sauce: Add Whipping Cream
Pour in the whipping cream while stirring gently. If it foams up, then remove the pot from heat. If not, then the butter cooled the mixture down too much and you should leave the pot on the stove another couple of minutes to evapourate some liquid.
Stir the mixture until smooth. When the sauce has cooled a bit, you can pour half of it into a container to be refrigerated; keep the rest out for the cake.
Step 5: Cake: the Crust
Start your oven preheating to 163 °C (325 F). Stir the melted butter into the cookie crumbs a little at a time. Stop adding butter when a spreadable paste is achieved; the mixture should not be too thin. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9" springform pan. If you don't have one, any other deep pan should work, it'll just be hard to remove the cake. For the cake pictured, the crust is only on the bottom, but when you pour the batter onto the caramel mixture, it tends to make the sides look uneven, so if you like, you can push the crust into the rim of the pan as well.
Stir half of the pecans into the reserved caramel sauce, and pour the mixture on top of the cookie crumbs in the pan. Place the whole pan in the refrigerator until the batter is ready.
Step 6: Cake: the Batter
With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract until well mixed. On a slow speed, blend in the eggs, one at a time. Beat until smooth.
Remove the pan from the refrigerator and pour in the batter. If you start from the perimeter and work inwards, the caramel doesn't spread to the surface as much.
Step 7: Baking
Fill a roasting pan large enough to fit the springform pan with a few centimetres of water. Wrap the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent leaks and place the springform in to the roasting pan. Bake for 75 minutes, or until firm in the centre, then let cool to room temperature. To prevent cracking, make sure that the cake has at least an hour to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Even with the water pan, the top might crack a bit; my first one did. Don't worry, with the topping, it's not noticeable.
Step 8: Topping
Run a warm spatula or knife around the edge of the cake, then remove the pan's ring.
Sprinkle the rest of the pecans onto the top of the cake. Warm the remaining caramel sauce in the microwave and drizzle over the top of the cake. Shave the chocolate into small spirals, then sprinkle them over the surface of the cake.
You can also melt the chocolate and drizzle it on top, but I like the way the shavings look.
Bon appétit! Try not to think about how many calories this thing must have.