40 Nilla wafer or Trefoil cookies, crushed or blended (about 1 ¾ cups crumbs)
2 Tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
6 T butter, melted
24 oz cream cheese, softened (3 8-oz sticks)
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 t vanilla bean paste
¼ t salt
1 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup caramel sauce (store-bought or make your own!)
10 large egg yolks, beaten until pale (save the whites for something else – I used them in the a meringue buttercream recipe!)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Use a rolling pin or food processor to pulse the gingersnaps into fine crumbs. Add sugar, salt, and melted butter and stir to combine. Press the crumbs into the base of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Use a spatula or the base of a glass to press into the pans.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool; wrap the pan in a piece of foil when cool enough to handle – I recommend heavy-duty or grill foil so it’s less likely to tear. Set aside.
While you’re waiting for the pans to cool, get a start on your cheesecake mixture!
Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese for 3 minutes, making sure to scrape the sides. Add 1 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla bean paste, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and beat for another 3 minutes, scraping sides of the bowl periodically.
Gently stir in first the whipping cream and then mix in the beaten egg yolks. Stir until combined, but don’t beat for a long period of time – overbeating can incorporate air bubbles that can make bumps in the tops of your cheesecakes as they bake. The batter will be pretty thin.
Pour the batter evenly over the crust. Tap it on the counter a couple of times to remove any air bubbles.
Transfer the foil-wrapped cheesecake into a large high-sided skillet, or a roasting pan.
Fill the skillet or roasting pan with HOT water from the tap. You want the water to go at least halfway up the springform pans. Carefully place in the oven.
Bake at 325 for about 1 hour. You will know it’s done when mostly set in the center and don’t jiggle too much when you shake it. (some movement is ok—the cheesecake will continue to set as it cools. It just shouldn't be liquidy.) If the cheesecake starts to brown, turn off the oven.
When the cheesecakes is mostly set, turn off the oven and crack the door – leave the pan in the oven to cool and set for at least 30 minutes. Cheesecakes often crack if they cool too fast.
Remove from the water bath, and remove the foil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours – or preferably overnight.
*You can sub in graham crackers if Trefoils or Nilla Wafers aren’t your jam.
Caramel sauce can be purchased at any grocery store, but if you're up for an adventure and want to make your own - AverieCooks.com is the home of my favorite of all the recipes I've tried so far! No caramel recipe is fool-proof, but this one gave me the least trouble with burning and crystalizing.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon light-colored corn syrup (can be omitted but helps reduce crystallization)
1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, optional (or substitute with bourbon, rum, Grand Marnier, or a favorite liqueur)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste (for a true ‘salted caramel’ sauce, I use 1 teaspoon)
Click for Caramel Sauce Instructions
Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
Recipe credit here - miss @TwoSugarBugs! Check out Tasia's site if you haven't already; she does some incredible work! I modified her SWMC recipe for this cheesecake - and I actually doubled it to have extra for chocolate caramel cupcakes. Optional but recommended!
5 extra large egg whites
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter; room temperature
½ cup caramel sauce
First! Make sure your bowl is grease-free or your egg whites may not stiffen. Disaster. Wipe the bowl and whisk of your mixer with lemon juice or vinegar if you’re not sure.
Whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Once combined, whisk and heat over a saucepan of simmering water until hot to touch. The sugar should be fully dissolved (it shouldn’t look or feel grainy) and it’ll be a bit frothy. This should take 3-4 minutes.
Wipe the bottom of the bowl, and on your stand mixer. Beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high until the mixture is cool and the meringue holds a stiff peak – about 10 minutes.
Remove the whisk and switch to the paddle attachment, beating continuously on medium speed add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, letting the butter fully incorporate before adding more. If the mixture gets too thin, you can refrigerate the bowl for a few minutes until the butter becomes more firm. Once all butter is incorporated, scrape down the bowl, add the caramel sauce, and beat until the frosting reaches a firm, whipped consistency.
Recipe credit: Two Sugar Bugs
-12-14 large caramels, cut into quarters if they’re bigger than ½”
-Small offset spatula
- Small piping bag
- Small piping tip of your choice – I used a small star tip from this set
When your cheesecake has chilled and your frosting is ready, spread a generous layer of frosting over the cheesecake and smooth with your offset spatula. I used the spatula tip to make a circular pattern in the top of the cheesecake – up to you!
Pipe small swirls of buttercream onto the rim of the cheesecake, and top each one with a small caramel square. Transfer a bit of caramel sauce to a small piping bag or (or I think I actually cheated and used a sandwich-size ziplock bag) and drizzle a bit of caramel sauce around the cheesecake edge. Serve immediately. (Swiss meringue buttercream hardens after too much time in the fridge, so allow the frosting a bit of time to come to room temperature if you need to refrigerate the cheesecake between frosting and serving!)
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!