turtle cheesecake with homemade caramel

For his graduation, I offered to make my brother any dessert he desired. He asked for a turtle cheesecake. Being a Nonnie’s cheesecake purist, I’d never eaten a turtle cheesecake and so I turned to Google. After an exhaustive search (and by exhaustive I mean that I looked through a page of images), I learned that a turtle cheesecake consists of a cheesecake base topped with nuts, caramel sauce and chocolate sauce. Armed with this fine knowledge, I went to work!

The cheesecake turned out quite well and was a hit at the party. While I can’t say that it will become my go-to cheesecake – Nonnie’s cheesecake is heaven on earth – it could be come yours.

Turtle Cheesecake with Homemade Caramel
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate cookies (I used chocolate graham crackers)
6 T butter, melted
3 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, finely grind the cookies. Mix with the melted butter and press into the bottom of a springform pan. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated. Pour into the springform pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

For the caramel
1 cup sugar
6 T butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup cream

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the sugar stirring occasionally. After the sugar has melted completely, let it brown until caramel colored, swirling often. Add the butter and whisk vigorously. The sugar will bubble up quite a bit and it is crazy hot so be careful. Take the mixture off the heat. Let it cool for 10 seconds. Add the cream. Whisk again until you have a smooth sauce.

This recipe makes about 1 cup of caramel sauce. You’ll use about 1/8 – 1/4 cup in this recipe. Refrigerate the remainder and have an ice cream sunday party later.

For the other toppings
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup chocolate chips (We like Guittard)

Toast the nuts in a saute pan over medium heat or in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, until browned.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave.

Drizzle the toppings over the cooled cheesecake. I tried several methods for the drizzling and found that pouring the topping into a small ziplock bag, cutting off a corner and squeezing the bag was the most effective and the prettiest. Sprinkle on the nuts. Refrigerate again or let it set for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!