Bonjour tout le monde! Today, we commence with the first guest post and as you can tell, OH MY GOD, they are going to be good. They are going to be soooo good! 😀
While I slave away at not a stove, but at my books (jokes, I will pretend to), I would like to, without further ado, welcome our first guest poster on Go Bake Yourself (fireworks go off, slow motion clapping everywhere!) – One of fabulous blogger mates, have you ever met The Frugal Hausfrau?
Spunky as can be, with magic sparks coming out of her hand when she touches a whisk, I think you had better start reading all about her impromptu virtual trip down under no? You’ll love it, especially when you start to (if already haven’t) salivate over all dem photos!
It’s high time I disappear now… so enjoy!!! 😀
You know it’s awful cold in Minnesota, and Aussie weather? Well, I’ve seen the photos! Just gorgeous. While I can’t pop on a plane and go down, I’m taking a virtual trip. On the agenda? I wouldn’t want to miss a chance to meet up with Uru, the famed CCU. But Gibs and I are here, and CCU must be undercover because I’ve looked all over for her.
She’s not in the front room, definitely not in the kitchen where I kind of expected her to be. Gibson & I already walked up and down the street looking for her…but no luck. We also popped in the corner store, thinking she ran out for a minute, but still no CCU.
I bet she’s out on a Top Secret Mission, so I’ll just make myself at home and whip her up a little surprise for her return. Maybe one of my specialties, a big American style cheesecake. Yeah, yeah, I know Cheesecake has roots from elsewhere, just like many of us Americans (and Australians, too) but I have to say what we have done with cheesecake…
They’re big, gorgeous overblown concoctions – and everyone always says, “Oh, just a sliver for me” but before you know it, they’re back at it until they’re half laying on your sofa discretely trying to unbutton that top button, and you’re serving coffee to get them on their way! Strong coffee! (Even if you don’t like coffee.) This one is especially good because it involves cheesecake and candy! And the candy? It’s cook’s choice.
Anyway, I hope when Uru gets back that she loves this – and doesn’t notice the mess in her kitchen!
Let’s talk about the candy in this cheesecake – since I made it with a graham cracker crust mixed with almonds and toffee bits, I like to carry that flavor through and use chocolate covered toffee candy bars, we call them Heath bars back home, tucked inside the cheesecake and on the top. I also used brown sugar in the cheesecake to go with all that caramel goodness. I’ll take it one step further and use a little caramel drizzle, too, ‘coz this is a very special cheesecake for Uru.
I do hope Uru likes Toffee & Cheesecake – the customs guy gave me the eye when he saw my stash of Heath bars!
I know Uru loves and uses all kinds of candy in her baking & almost anything really goes here, although I’ve always stuck with pretty much caramel and chocolate flavors. If I don’t use Heath candy bars, I think about Milky Ways, 3 Musketeers or maybe M&M’s. But really, with a few variations, all kinds of candy (or maybe crushed up cookies) could be used in this cheesecake.
The biggest thing to think about is if the candy you choose will be good in the center of the cheesecake or will it just be weird, and that any candy added to the top should be added last-minute, especially colored type candies, so it doesn’t bleed into the topping. If you think your candy will be strange inside, it could just be left out of the center and only added to the top or a coordinating candy could be added to the middle.
Examples: Gum drops – they’d be cute in all different colors in little groupings on the top, but they’d be weird inside! M&M’s – they’d be great inside, especially if lightly chopped, but would bleed a little bit, and they’d have to be added very last-minute to the top, because even if they don’t melt in your hands, they melt on your cheesecake! Trust me on this one! Chopped up Milky Way bars? Yeah, they’d make a great middle layer and a great topping!
After you choose your candy, you’ll want to think about your crust. This crust normally has 1/2 cup of nuts in it and I went with Almonds because they fit my theme. Change it up – how about hazelnuts with Ferrerro Rocher candy? Snickers with peanut in the crust? Or maybe you’d like to use something else instead of the nuts. Ground up Pretzels? Put chopped up caramels in the middle and top with chopped pretzel, caramel & chocolate? But if you don’t think some kind of nut will go with your candy, simply omit and increase the crumbs by 1/2 cup.
Which brings us to the crumb bottom on the cheesecake. Graham Cracker crumbs are the standard, but another type of very crisp cookie could be chosen. Dry shortbread cookies work great. So do crisp chocolate cookies and hard lemon cookies. Perhaps you’d prefer to grind up gingersnaps! Choose the type of bottom you think will complement your candy – and think about using some of the cookie in the middle or for the topping instead of or as well as the candy.
As you start to deviate from the exact crust, you might find you need to add just the tiniest touch of more butter to it – start with the six tablespoons and if you can just press it together and it holds in clumps, you’re good to go. If not melt another tablespoon and add it bit by bit until it does. Add as little as possible, though, because you don’t want it oily.
Now that you’ve chosen the crust, the middle layer and the candy topping, you’ll want to decide if you’re going to use brown or white sugar! White sugar goes with almost anything, and brown is great, but not with everything, because it makes the cheesecake slightly caramel in flavor. I always use white in the topping because the pure white looks just gorgeous with any decoration.
Last of all is the drizzle. what ever goes with your theme. Any ice cream topping or sauce will work here and to keep things simple, I usually just use store-bought. I’ve always wanted to try one of those toppings that hardens into a candy shell just because I think it might be fun, but haven’t yet. The drizzle, though, if I use it, is usually just a punctuation, a tiny bit, to set off the rest.
Wouldn’t it be fun to put out a whole assortments of candies, crushed cookies and drizzles, the candies in their own little dishes and the drizzles in squirt bottles and have the guests go at it? I could just imagine almost any kid’s (or adult’s) eyes light up when they saw that! If my son were here, Number 2, the “glutton” he’d have to go last for sure, and would no doubt clean up everything left behind! There’d be nothing left for poor Uru when she came back, just the mess in the kitchen!
Speaking of which, my cheesecake is done and sitting in the fridge, the toppings chopped up and set out and I found some caramel ice cream topping in Uru’s fridge. But where is Uru? I think Gibson and I will take a stroll around the neighborhood and play detective. Maybe we’ll run into someone who knows where Uru is! At the very least, perhaps we’ll stop by one of the wonderful restaurants she’s reviewed. Luckily, she’s left behind a hat and trench coat…
Oh, but before we go, I guess I better clean up that mess!
Caramel Toffee Cheesecake
(or Design your own Variation)
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, about 5 ounces (or hard cookie of your choice)
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, very finely chopped (or another nut or pretzels)
- 1/2 cup English toffee bits (such as Shor or Heath)
- 2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar (white sugar may be used)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, perhaps a bit more if using a variation in the crumb or nuts
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar (white sugar may be used)
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (may be omitted or another extract may be substituted to complement your variation)
- 8 ounces chocolate-covered English toffee (such as Skor or Heath bars), cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or another candy/crushed cookie of your choice
- 1 16-ounce container sour cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Assorted chopped up candies or cookies
- Drizzle of your choice
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180 degrees C).
- Mix the crust ingredients in medium bowl.
- Add butter and stir until moist clumps form – If variations in the crust have been made, a little more butter may need to be added, as little as possible.
- Press mixture over bottom and 1 inch up sides of 10-inch-diameter springform pan. (A flat bottomed cup is very helpful to make the crust even and flat and work it up the sides of the pan.
- Check the crust in good light to make certain there are no holes and gently nudge to cover them.
- Bake crust until just set, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325°F (160 degrees C).
- Beat cream cheese and sugar together in large bowl until just blended, stopping and scraping the sides once or twice.
- Beat in eggs 1 at a time, until just mixed in. Scrape bottom and sides before adding the next egg.
- Add both extracts and mix in.
Note: Blend until just mixed, not to add in air, and as beat little as possible for the best textured cheesecake.
- Pour half of mixture into prepared crust and level with a spatula; sprinkle with chopped up toffee bars or other candy/cookie of your choice.
- Gently dollop the remaining mixture over. Use a spatula to carefully nudge the the cheesecake mixture over the toffee bars/candy until well covered, gently smooth the top. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but even and level is best.
- Bake until edges are puffed and well set, but center still has a very slight jiggle. The top should be a nice golden brown, about 55 minutes (Don’t worry about any cracks that have formed on the top of the cheesecake as it will be covered by the topping)
Meanwhile, prepare topping
- Mix sour cream, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Again, try not to beat air into the mixture.
- Pour topping over hot cheesecake, smooth with spatula if needed. If you see any bubbles, smooth them out. Bake cake until topping is just set, about 5 to 7 minutes. The topping should not be brown.
- Transfer to rack and cool 10 minutes. Run knife between cake and pan sides. (This will prevent the cheesecake and topping from pulling as it shrinks in the pan while being chilled.)
- Chill cake uncovered overnight.
- Remove pan sides and place cake on platter. Garnish top with candies.
- The bottom of a cheesecake pan has a lip on it – for easiest removal and cutting of a cheesecake when you put the pan together, put it together with the lip down. I know it is a bit more difficult and looks like there is a small gap on the inside of the pan between the bottom and the sides – trust me, the gap won’t be a problem and it will be much easier to cut and slice the cheesecake and remove a slice intact.
- When I place the cheesecake on a platter or cake stand, I often just keep it on the bottom portion of the springform pan. It doesn’t show until it’s time to cut.
- When cutting the cheesecake, use a long thin knife and a downward motion. Wipe the knife clean between slices.
- This is a great recipe to use up a little Halloween candy!
Recipe originally appeared in Bon Appetit, December 2000.