Decadent when I posted the recipe in October of 2005. So what must it be now? Oh-My-God-ish?
Once you have the basics of cheesecake—and those would be four bricks of cream cheese, five eggs, and about a cup of sugar—you can pretty much make what you like. Add some jarred butterscotch topping, chocolate chips, jimmies. It's not too expensive to experiment.
I've made coconut, eggnog (killer), pumpkin-chocolate swirl, fruit, chocolate-orange, and dark chocolate, and I've made many of them without sugar. They are the easiest to doctor for the diabetic. (To adapt the following recipe, omit the crust or make it entirely with almond meal instead of cookies. Replace the all the sugar with 1/2 granular Splenda, 1/2 xylitol, available at health food stores. Use sugar-free candy, which you can find online or in some grocery stores.)
This cheesecake is the result of a dollar-store mistake—a bag of caramels bought to make candy apples the day before I decided to diet, which was the day before I decided I would make this cheesecake and couldn't be on a diet anyway. You follow, right? You're on a diet too. Tomorrow.
Here's what you'll need.
White Chocolate and Caramel Cream Cheese Pie (with Chocolate Ganache)
14 shortbread cookies OR chocolate wafers OR chocolate graham crackers
1/2 C almond meal or 1/4 C ground almonds
5 T melted butter
1 T sugar
4 bricks cream cheese (Philly ONLY, and I use 1/3 less fat; I'm delusional), at room temperature
3/4 C to 1 C sugar
1 T vanilla
small bag of caramels
1/2 bag white chocolate chips
2 T heavy whipping cream
1/2 bag dark or milk chocolate chips
9 T heavy cream
raspberry (or other) preserves
10" springform pan
large pizza pan (for bain-marie)
heavy duty foil
1.) Preheat your oven to 350°. Spray the springform pan with PAM (c'mon, it's really the only non-stick cooking spray, isn't it?). Mix all the crust ingredients in a food processor, and press into the bottom of the pan, going up the sides ever so slightly just to cover that seam. Bake the crust for about ten minutes, then reduce your oven temperature to 325°.
2. Fill a pan larger than the springform about 2/3 with hot water, and place it in the oven. Wrap the springform pan in several layers of heavy-duty foil, making sure not to put a fold or a seam anywhere below the top rim of the pan; you don't want any water to seep between the foil and the pan, or it will destroy your dessert!
3. Beat the cream cheese until it's smooth.
4. Melt the caramels (after you unwrap each of the suckers, and after the hand cramps are manageable) with 2 T of whipping cream in a medium bowl in the microwave (follow instructions on the package).
5. Melt the white chocolate chips in a double boiler.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the cream cheese, mixing until smooth.
7. Add the sugar, and mix thoroughly.
8. Add the vanilla.
9. Mix about half of the cream cheese in the double boiler with the melted chocolate, and mix well.
10. Pour the melted caramel in the other half of the cream cheese, and mix well.
11. Pour the white chocolate mixture over the crust, and then pour the caramel over the white chocolate mixture. Swirl it. (This involves putting in a knife or fork and swirling it around. It won't matter, though, because you're going to cover this baby with ganache. Still, the pretty swirl that comes out is like wearing lingerie. Sometimes only you have to know.)
12. Put the pan inside the pan of water in the oven, and bake for over an hour, maybe closer to two. Check it in forty minutes, then again in an hour, if the batter was still liquid.
13. When your cheesecake is finished, you will know; the edges will have rounded and pulled away, but the center will still wiggle a little. Don't cook it too long; you don't want it to be dry and crack.
14. When the cheesecake has cooled, run a knife inside the pan, and unhook it. You will need two plates to turn the cake over; one to turn it over so that you can lift off the bottom of the springform pan, and your serving plate, so you can flip it back.
15. Melt chocolate chips and cream in a heavy saucepan. Pour it over the cheesecake, and smooth with an offset spatula. Chill.
16. If you'd like, spread more of the chocolate—or use butterscotch or caramel or even preserves!—on the sides, and press sliced almonds all the way around.
This cheesecake, like all cheesecakes, tastes best after 24 hours. I don't know why.
And could we call this what it really is: cream cheese pie? It's a crust and a filling. It's not cake.