Happy Birthday to me!
Yep, this was my birthday cake. And let me tell you, this is a dessert worthy of the name "cake". It was decadent. It was dreamy. It made my tastebuds do a happy dance. Then, it made me realize I had to get it out of the house. Stat.
Did I get it out of the house? Not so much.
Admittedly, I don't have a lot of cheesecake recipes on the blog. It's actually not my favorite dessert. Have I told my cheesecake story? It's actually not much of a story, but when I was in 5th grade and my parents were having some sort of dinner party, I ate an entire cheesecake. By myself. Do you know what happened next?
I was sick all night long and it was a long, LONG time before I tried cheesecake again. Even the smell of it made me nauseous for years. The aversion is so bad, I can't even eat plain cream cheese on bagels. I can handle a salmon-flavored cream cheese on bagels, but that's a whole other story. I did try cheesecake again in college. I had one bite of a friend's, and I discovered it really wasn't so bad.
Now today, I can handle a piece of cheesecake if it's done right. As in, the cream cheese flavor isn't overpowering. And this particular cheesecake? It's done right.
The salted caramel topping has a lot to do with the sheer deliciousness of this cheesecake. This sauce is the bomb! I was surprised by how easy it was to make. If anyone remembers my trials and tribulations with my Cinnamon Sugar & Caramel Snack Mix where I had to make that caramel sauce, like, 5 times- this sauce is not that. This was 100% perfect on the 1st try. That's something people, that is something. I'm not sure what it is, but I did notice two differences right off the bat between the two sauces-
1. This salted caramel sauce utilizes white sugar while the snack mix uses brown sugar.
2. The snack mix sauce has you melt the brown sugar and butter together. With the salted caramel, you melt the sugar, then add the butter.
Do those differences account for the disparity between the two sauces? They must.
The cheesecake has a lovely Oreo cookie crust. You could crush your cookies in the food processor to get a more fine crumb, but you know what? My dishwasher was full and I didn't feel like hand washing the food processor. After all, this was my birthday cake. So I got out a Ziplock bag and my mallet. A little smashy-smashy later and I had my crust. Ah, stress relief.
It's hard to tell from this picture, by my cheesecake actually split. Argh! I hate when that happens. Luckily, for this cake, it didn't matter. I sprinkled some chocolate chips in the crack-
Then I spread the caramel sauce on the top. Voila! You can't even tell there was once a crack.
FYI- There's a couple of techniques to use to keep your cheesecake from cracking. First of all, it's super important to completely grease your pan. Completely. Stick-age is the enemy here. As for baking the cheesecake, one technique is to bake your cheesecake in a water bath. Another technique is to simply run a thin knife around the edge of the cheesecake when it first comes out of the oven. The reason the cheesecake cracks is that the sides of the cheesecake stick to that pan while the cake is sinking a bit, causing it to crack. Running a knife around the edge of the pan will remedy that problem.
Did I mention how completely scarf-able this cheesecake is??
100% Scarf-able :-)
So, I've just got tell all of you- I'm not sure who is sharing my Chicken Fajita Casserole but dang you guys! I've been getting crazy traffic for that recipe. I'd already had 750 hits by the time I woke up this morning! For those of you not in the know, I normally get about 200 hits a day so this extra traffic is always welcome. And surprising! I had 1500+ hits yesterday, which just blew my mind.
I'm going into the weekend pretty happy, to say the least! :-) Have a great weekend everyone!
Recipe adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp salted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Oreo cookies, finely crushed
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz) can sweetened, condensed milk
3 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips (plus more for topping)
sea salt (optional-for topping)
1. Make the caramel sauce- in a small saucepan, heat sugar over medium heat. Use a heat-resistant spatula to continually stir the sugar. It will start to melt and from brown clumps. Keep stirring! Once the sugar is melted, add the butter. Be careful to keep stirring as the caramel will bubble up when you add the butter. Stir the butter until completely melted, 2-3 minutes. Continue stirring as you slowly drizzle the cream in. Keep stirring again, because the caramel will bubble up again when you add the cream. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute, then remove pan from heat. Immediately stir in the salt. Set sauce aside and allow to cool before using. Store in a glass jar for ease of use, keep sauce in the fridge.
2. Preheat oven to 300º. Thoroughly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine Oreo's and butter. Press mixture evenly into the springform pan.
4. Prepare the filling- place cream cheese in a stand mixer or mixing bowl to use an electric beater on in. Beat the cream cheese until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the condensed milk. Beat in the eggs, one by one until thoroughly mixed. Mix in the vanilla. Add chocolate chips to the bowl, and fold in gently with a spatula. Pour filling into springform pan. Top with a handful of mini chocolate chips.
5. Bake in preheat oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set and jiggles slightly in the center. Run a thin knife around the edge of the cheese cake (but leave it in the pan) and place on a cooling rack. Allow cheese cake to cool before chilling in the fridge in the springform pan overnight.
6. Before serving, heat caramel sauce in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Pop springform pan off cheesecake. Pour enough caramel sauce over the top of the cheese cake to cover it. Top with more chocolate chips and a sprinkle of sea salt, if desired. Slice, and serve immediately.
*A note about the caramel sauce- Caramel is extremely temperamental during the spring and summer months when the humidity is high. A more experienced baker than I told me that they never make caramel sauce in the summer because it almost always seizes. I can testify to that. A good work around for me in the summer is to cheat with the caramel sauce. I take a bag of packaged caramels (like Werther's), place them in a saucepan, and add 2-3 tbsp of heavy cream. Heat the pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the caramels have melted and the cream is incorporated, add the salt to taste. Start with 1/2 tsp. Only add another 1/2 tsp of salt if you need it. Use as you would the other sauce.
*A note about baking time- My oven is a convection oven, which bakes about 20% faster than a normal oven. If you are using a regular oven, baking time may take longer, about 60-70 minutes. Check your cheesecake every 5 minutes or so after 50 minutes by jiggling the pan.
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