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!



cream cheese pound cake, two ways

I made this cake for a dinner party we went to on Friday night. It was great and I decided to make it again for our mamas when they came down to celebrate Mother’s Day last Sunday.

A quick side note here: Jordan was an absolute champ both nights. Friday night he sweetly convinced me  – braving my baking righteousness – to bring the cake unbaked to Matt and Alexa’s to finish there. I had just assembled the ingredients and it was already 6:35 pm when I sheepishly admitted that the cake would need to bake for at least an hour. Good call Jordan! Sunday night he was also a dream. Jordan cooked an amazing dinner for 6 ladies, listened to them gab endlessly for hours and did all the dishes! I am a lucky, lucky girl!

Now onto the amazing cake! My new go-to pound cake (aside from the blood orange olive oil cake from a few weeks ago).

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Strawberry Coulis or Passionfruit Glaze, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 oz  cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
zest of two lemons
3 large eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t salt

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan (or butter a loaf pan and dust with granulated sugar- my preferred method borrowed from my friend Miykaelah).  

Beat the butter and cream cheese in a mixture until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and zest. Beat in the eggs one at a time until combined. Add the vanilla. Stir in the flour and salt until just combined. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan. If serving with strawberry coulis, you can serve the cake warm. If you plan to glaze the cake, let it cool to room temperature before glazing. 

Strawberry Coulis
1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed
1/4 cup water
2 T sugar
1 T lemon juice 

In a blender or food processor, puree the berries, water, sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Strain though a fine mesh sieve and chill. Serve with several tablespoons poured over each slice of cake. 

Passionfruit Glaze
3 T passionfruit pulp
2/3 cup powdered sugar

We all know how much I love passionfruit. It is the most amazing tropical fruit I’ve ever eaten. I wrote a delightful piece about my love here. You can find passionfruit pulp in the freezer section of some latin markets. If you ever see one fresh, buy it (and immediately call me with the market coordinates)!

Whisk together the passionfruit pulp and powdered sugar until smooth. Pour over the cooled cake. Let sit at room temperature to harden. 

Passionfruit Sauce
1/4 cup passionfruit pulp
3 T simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated until the sugar dissolves)

Serve with several spoonfuls poured over each slice of passionfruit glazed cake for an extra passionfruity tartness. 

This cake is awesome with both fruit sauces. The strawberry is delightfully seasonal and fresh. The passionfruit is too good to describe, especially if your are as obsessed as I. Honestly, I’d recommend both. Maybe do half and half when you bake it at home.