Salted Caramel Brownie Cheesecake
Anddddd we're back!! I took a well needed break from blogging and baking to study for my architect licensing exams. I am happy to say I passed the two I took! So far, three down, two to go! Whoopee!
Now that studying is out of the way (albeit momentarily) I must confess that lately I've been on a cheesecake binge. As summer begins, few things can beat a chilled cheesecake. Vanilla cheesecake functions the same way a vanilla pound cake or vanilla ice cream does, as a base for delicious cooked or fresh fruits and tons of toppings.
Taking that as a starting point, I set out to create a cheesecake recipe that combined chocolate and caramel. The result is a chewy, blissful, chocolate brownie with a creamy salted caramel kick to finish. The best of both worlds!
A note about caramel. I hate making it. I mostly hate cleaning the pots and utensils after making it, but that's another issue. If you're apprehensive to making caramel, store bought caramel can definitely be used as a substitute.
If however, you're feeling ambitious, the caramel in this recipe can be made using two methods. The conventional stovetop method detailed below is quick and easy. As I was researching this recipe, I came across a different method to make caramel from David Lebovitz. He writes about making caramel using the microwave. I tried it out and though you still have to clean a bowl, this method is very easy. If you are worried about splattering hot sugar and want to give the microwave method a whirl, this may be for you!
Salted Caramel Brownie Swirl Cheesecake
Makes 16 generous squares
Caramel can be store bought, made on the stove (as written in recipe), or with a microwave (written below).
To make caramel in a microwave, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a microwaveable bowl. Heat in microwave for two minutes. Take bowl out of microwave and carefully stir any remaining lumps of sugar. Then heat sugar in microwave until light amber color, up to four additional minutes, visually checking every 15 seconds. Caramel burns very easily, better to err on the lighter side.
Once caramel is light amber color carefully remove from microwave and let it bubble and darken to medium amber color. Proceed with rest of caramel instructions below.
SEA SALT CARAMEL
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt like Maldon, for sprinkling
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 large eggs + 1 large egg white (save yolk for cheesecake)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour
- Make caramel: in a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook over medium low heat until medium amber color, whisking continuously, 5- 7 minutes. Add salt and whisk in butter one cube at a time. Be careful while whisking, sugar mixture is extremely hot and may splatter. Mix cream one tablespoon at a time and stir mixture until smooth. Transfer caramel to bowl and set aside. Cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8x8 baking pan with foil overhanging sides and spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Make cheesecake: in a bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with paddle until fluffy. Blend in egg yolk and vanilla and cooled caramel until smooth and light. Set aside.
- Make brownie: heat chocolate and butter in double boiler, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract, eggs, flour, and pinch of salt. Stir until just combined, do not overmix.
- In prepared pan, spread half of brownie mixture over prepared pan. Spoon three quarters of the caramel cheesecake mixture in large dollops over brownie. Dollop rest of brownie mixture and remaining quarter of caramel cheesecake. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, swirl to combine the two mixtures. Don't overswirl, you want distinct areas of both mixtures in every bite. Gently drop pan a couple of times on counter to even out batter and remove air bubbles. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
- Place cheesecake on middle rack of preheated oven and bake for 34-38 minutes. Bake until center feels just about set, but still slightly wet. A toothpick inserted in center should yield a wet cheesecake crumbs and moist brownie bits.
- Remove from oven and place cheesecake on wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled to room temperature, place in refrigerator at least four hours, better overnight.
- To serve, lift cheesecake out of pan with the foil. Peel off foil from cheesecake and place on cutting surface. Cut into 2x2 squares (very generous!) and serve slightly chilled.