Sunday, December 29, 2013

Caramel Latte Cheesecake

This year while many families were celebrating Christmas Eve on December 24th, our family was celebrating the silver wedding anniversary of my aunt and uncle. They decided on hosting a big party with many of their closest friends and family and I contributed with my baking. Together with my mom, we baked three cakes for the event over the span of three days. Two of them were well-trusted recipes: my lemon cheesecake and my mom's chocolate cheesecake. The third was a new recipe and also a new shape for me: a caramel latte cheesecake made in a square springform pan.

I was a little hesitant when using the new pan because I had never made a square cheesecake before and I didn't know what proportions to use when scaling the recipe. For example, I doubled the amount of crust and ended up with way too much and was scooping it out of the pan. However doubling the cake batter itself was just perfect and gave me exactly the right amount to fill the pan.

When we brought out the cakes for dessert everyone was thoroughly impressed, especially when they found out we had made all three. They looked beautiful and appealed to people's different tastes with three different flavors. I must say that the chocolate was the biggest hit but this caramel latte cheesecake came in for a close second. I was told by one of my family members that on a scale of 1 to 10 the cheesecake was a 15. My cousin, who loves caramel, was quite pleased when I admitted that I had him in mind when I found the recipe.

Overall the party was a big success and I give kudos to my aunt and uncle for pulling it off. I think that the guests all enjoyed themselves and were genuinely happy to celebrate such a special occasion with their friends. The night had a very festive and happy tone and I was so touched by the warm thanks I received from my aunt and uncle in the end. I hope that one day I too will be celebrating my silver wedding anniversary surrounded by so much happiness and joy.

Caramel Latte Cheesecake
Note: I have adapted the recipe for an 10" or 11" round springform pan as they are more common than square shaped pans.

For the crust:
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • tsp salt
  • ¼ cup (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup toffee bits
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the toffee bits in a bowl and then transfer to an 11" springform pan. Gently press down all along the bottom and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes. 
  2. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the toffee bits in an even layer on top of the crust and press down lightly. Set aside to cool.
For the cheesecake:
  • 2 lbs (4 blocks) cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp instant espresso
  1. Dissolve the instant espresso in the vanilla and set aside.
  2. Beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed for about a minute, until smooth.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, at low speed. Beat in the sugar. Scape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Beat in the sour cream and then the vanilla and coffee and mix on medium speed until everything is well incorporated. The batter will be fairly liquidy.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cooled springform pan and bake for 55 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit using a hot water bath or by placing a pan of hot water on the lowest rack beneath the cake.
  6. Without opening the oven door, turn off the oven and leave the cake to cool for 1 1/2 hours inside the oven. Afterward, remove from the oven and cool to room temperature before refrigerating for at least 4 hours, though preferably overnight.
For the topping:
Note: There will be extra nuts left over as this recipe makes more than enough to use as a topping for the cake.
  • ⅓ cup sugar 
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1½ cups salted peanuts
  • Dulce de leche (or caramel)
  1. Put the sugar and water in a 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until
    the sugar dissolves. 
  2. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color. 
  3. Toss in the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with the sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white but keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel. 
  4. Once the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, using a wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. 
  5. Cool the nuts to room temperature and then chop them into small pieces. Sprinkle over top of the cheesecake and drizzle the dulce de leche or caramel sauce on top.

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