Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cheesecake, Dark Chocolate and Caramel Beurre Sale: Let The Holidays Begin....

The holidays are here.  A time when family and friends join together and throw all dietary inhibitions to the wind in the spirit of giving thanks.  We're kicking it off with this salty piece of caramel deliciousness at our house. 

You are going to love and hate me for this one.  Love me because this is the best (and easiest) cheesecake ever... hate me because you are now hungry.

I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Joy the Baker.  It is hands down the easiest cheesecake I've ever made.  No special cheesecake pan.  No separate pan for water.  Even if you don't like dark chocolate or salted caramel, no problem.  Just sub in your favorites.

This bad boy is going to be one of the star attractions at our Thanksgiving feast for two.

Cheesecake Pie with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Caramel Beurre Sale
Makes one 9-inch pie
For the Crust:
2 cups ginger snap cookie crumbs (I used the French equivalent of speculous) 
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
*Note, if you are in a rush, use a pre-made crust that you can pick up in the grocery store on the baking aisle. 

For the Cheesecake: 
1 pound (2 blocks) cream cheese, at room temp.
1 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
2 eggs at room temp. 
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons heavy cream

For Dark Chocolate Ganache: 
4 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoon light corn syrup

For the Caramel Beurre Sale:
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup 
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoons sea salt (fleur de sel if you can get it!) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  You'll need a 9-inch pie plate.  To make the crust, place cookies in the bowl of a food processor and grind to a fine crumb.  (If you don’t have a food processor you can crumble cookies in a zip lock bag).  Once you’ve created a fine crumb, add the butter and mix together until thoroughly combined.  Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and press with fingers until sides and bottom are evenly coated with crust.  Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you make the cheesecake filling.  (Eliminate this process if using a pre-made crust).  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  To make the cheesecake filling:  In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. (An electric mixer would be easier but a whisk will work as well).  Beat in salt and vanilla extract until well incorporated.    Add eggs.  Once creamy and smooth, slowly beat in the cream, beating until smooth. Pour cheesecake mixture into the prepared cheesecake crust.  Bake cheesecake for 45-50 minutes.  When cheesecake doesn’t have a loose giggle in the center, turn oven off and prop the oven open slightly.  Let cheesecake rest for another 45 minutes in the cooling oven.  Remove from the oven and cool completely in the fridge for at least 4 hours.  Overnight is best. It should look something like this.... While cheesecake cools, make the caramel beurre sale so it can cool as well.  In my opinion, this is the hardest part.   BUT, once you conquer it, you will have the perfect Christmas gift... make a lot, pour into jars and cutify with labels and ribbon.  It took me two tries.  So, here we go....add sugar, water, and corn syrup to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Bring to a boil and allow to brown.  Don't get bored and walk away from the stove!! This may happen if you do that.... 

Instead, it should look like this.... 
Once sugar has browned to a medium amber color (like photo above) remove from heat and immediately add heavy cream and butter.  Mixture will boil and foam.  Stir well.  Mine had a few lumps which I just discarded.  Add salt and stir well to incorporate. It will look like this.
It may seem thin… that’s ok.  Place in a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.  

Fast forward to four hours later (or the next day if you let it sit overnight) and you are ready to make the last piece of the puzzle, the dark chocolate ganache.  Combine chocolate, butter, heavy cream and corn syrup in a mixing bowl and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Spread over the cheesecake and pop back in the fridge for another 10 minutes.   

Drizzle the caramel over the cooled dark chocolate ganache,  return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Slice and serve with extra caramel at the table to pass.  Bon appetite! 

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