Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake
- Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2-½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups biscuit crumbs (grahams, gingersnaps or vanilla wafers)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup caramel sauce
- Pinch of coarse salt
- ¼ cup unsalted peanuts, dry-roasted and finely chopped (optional)
- 10 ounces milk or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ cup granulated white sugar
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier or any orange-flavored liqueur
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with two to three layers of foil to prevent water (during baking) from seeping into the crust. Set aside.
- Pour granulated sugar into a non-stick heavy-bottomed saucepan or skillet. Stir in lemon juice using a wooden spoon, until sugar is moistened. Set pan over medium heat. Continue stirring until sugar begins to melt. Set spoon aside and continue swirling pan to even out the color.
- Once caramel mixture becomes golden in color, gently pour in cream in a thin stream, while whisking continuously to incorporate. Once all of the cream has been added, allow caramel to boil for about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in diced butter, one to two pieces at a time. Make sure to stir until butter is completely melted, before adding the next batch.
- Transfer caramel into a heat-proof container and allow to cool. Chill until needed.
- Combine together biscuit crumbs, light brown sugar and melted butter in a food processor. Pulse for 3 to 5 minutes or until ingredients are well-blended. Mixture should be moist and crumbly.
- Press onto the bottom and about 1-½ to 2 inches up the sides of prepared springform pan. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Whisk together caramel sauce, salt and chopped peanuts. (Alternately, you can omit salt and use salted peanuts instead.) Spread over pre-baked crust. Chill until filling is ready.
- Lower oven temperature to 325°F.
- Place semi-sweet chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Set aside.
- Simmer whipping cream over medium heat until edges begin to bubble. Remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate. Let stand for 2 to3 minutes, then stir gently until completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool.
- Using paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in light brown and granulated white sugars until mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of bowl as needed. Gradually beat in melted chocolate ganache while continuing to beat on medium speed.
- Reduce mixer speed to low. Break eggs one by one into the cream cheese mixture. Beat batter for an additional 30 to 40 seconds after adding each egg. Beat in liqueur, vanilla and salt. Beat for another 2 minutes to fully incorporate ingredients.
- Carefully pour or spoon cream cheese batter into the springform pan. Make sure that the caramel layer is not disrupted. Set springform pan into a rimmed roasting pan and fill with hot water. Water level should not be higher than the edge of foil cover.
- Bake cheesecake at 325°F for 60 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F and continue baking for another 70 to 90 minutes or until edges are firm and center is just set.
- Remove roasting pan from oven. Take springform pan out of the hot water bath and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges to loose cake from pan. Leave to cool to room temperature. Loosely cover the top of springform pan with foil and chill for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
- Remove sides of pan and transfer cheesecake onto a serving plate or cake stand.
- Take chilled caramel out of the refrigerator and transfer into a small saucepan. Warm ove medium-low to medium heat, until slightly bubbly.
- Generously pour caramel sauce over the top of cheesecake. Cut cheesecake into wedges before serving.
- Makes 10 to 12 servings.
- You may also pour about a cup or so of the caramel sauce over cheesecake. Pool any remaining caramel sauce in individual plates before topping with a slice of the cake. Serve immediately.
- If desired, top cheesecake slices with fresh fruit or berries or chopped nuts.
- For a truly chocoholic cheesecake, drizzle additional melted chocolate or hot fudge sauce over caramel topping.
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