Cheesecake with Salted Caramel

It was Jeff’s birthday this past weekend and I wanted to make a special cake. I’ve seen a couple other bloggers (here and here) baking cheesecakes recently and thought this might be a good option (it was!) and I had a particular cheesecake in mind. When we lived in New York there was a place near us called Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, and it really was a special cheesecake. The texture was very light and creamy. One time when we were there I innocently asked if they put cream in the cheesecake (trying to figure out how they got that texture!), I was answered with a smile, they couldn’t say, the recipe seems to be under lock and key. The closest thing I could find was a video of Eileen with Bobby Flay which was helpful, I learned she used sour cream in the batter and also separated the egg whites and whipped them separately. I also learned that over-beating and over-baking will make it crack. Well, I must have done both because as you can see mine cracked quite a bit, but mainly on the edges where it had blown up like a balloon and then deflated. But all in all this is a great cheesecake recipe. I chose to work with this recipe because it was the closest thing to Eileen’s (that I’m aware of) and it’s from somebody’s grandmother in New York. In any case we loved the cake, it’s light and creamy, I followed the directions for baking and I think it was over baked a bit. It says to leave in the oven 1 hour after baking and it was still quite hot when I took it out, I’ve read you can leave the oven door open during that process and it might not be a bad idea to do so. The main thing is to let it cool down as slow as possible. The salted caramel is easy to make, you might remember it from last summer’s ice cream, it tastes so good I could eat it on almost anything but perfect for this cheesecake. Oh and keep in mind this is an all day event. And it’s probably best to make the day before because it needs to chill for several hours or preferably overnight. There are lots of hours in this recipe, chill for an hour, bake for an hour, let sit for an hour, you get the idea. However it’s totally worth the time spent for this special treat!

Cheesecake with Salted Caramel

Adapted from Love & Olive Oil

For Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Cheesecake:

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages plain cream cheese, room temperature (leave the cream cheese out for about 2 hours so it’s easy to work with)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 5 large eggs, separated, room temp
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon gray sea salt, crushed or kosher salt

To make the crust combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Drizzle melted butter and stir until evenly moistened. Press into the bottom and up the sides (as far as it'll go) of a lightly buttered 10-inch springform pan. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

To make the cheesecake: In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and salt and beat until smooth. Add flour and egg yolks and mix thoroughly. Stir in sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla, almond extract, and nutmeg and beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with remaining 1/4 cup sugar until it form stiff peaks. Fold thoroughly into cream cheese mixture until evenly incorporated. Pour into chilled crust.

Bake cheesecake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until top is puffed and lightly golden brown. Without opening the oven door, turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven as it cools for 1 hour. Do not take the cheesecake immediately out of the hot oven or it will fall. After 1 hour, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours or overnight before slicing.

To make the caramel sauce: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5 to 6 minutes (mine started to brown around 7 minutes). 

Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream (slowly!) as the mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Transfer the caramel to a jar and cool. Store refrigerated in jar for up to 2 weeks.