Chocolate + Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Chocolate + Salted Caramel Cheesecake @themerrythoughtWith Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought you might need a decadent dessert to share with those you love! You guys, this cheesecake here, it’s pretty much it for me. Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a huge chocolate lover, the combination of chocolate, salted caramel and New York style cheesecake is amazing and perfect!  This is probably one of my favorite desserts, and it isn’t always easy for me to narrow down favorites!  (This Cappuccino Cheesecake is also one of my favorites ever.  And yes, in case you couldn’t tell, cheesecake is my favorite dessert overall…took years of debating – and research 😉 – to figure that out!)
Chocolate + Salted Caramel Cheesecake @themerrythoughtI first made this for Justin’s birthday a few years ago…the first time I saw a picture of the cheesecake that inspired this one, it just reminded me of him. And I’m so glad that I made this, while I’m not sure where it ranks in his book, it’s definitely high in my book and a dessert I plan to keep making! I shared the recipe on my old blog, but it’s just so good, so perfect, that I needed to reshoot it and post it here for you guys! Because no one should have to miss out on this mouth-watering goodness.Chocolate + Salted Caramel Cheesecake @themerrythoughtI know it seems a little involved, that’s quite a recipe listed below – but trust me, this is so worth taking the time to make! You can make the salted caramel sauce at any point and just store it in the refrigerator till you need you. I would plan to make the cheesecake at least one day before you’ll need it – it’s best if it chills for a day (or two). Then just add the caramel, ganache and pecans a few hours (or up to a day) before serving.Chocolate + Salted Caramel Cheesecake @themerrythought
Chocolate + Salted Caramel Cheesecake

For the crust:
32 Oreo cookies (generic brand is fine and what I use, and yes, the whole cookie, filling and all), finely processed into crumbs
5 1/3 tbsp. salted butter, melted and cooled

Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Combine the Oreo crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl and stir until all of the crumbs are moistened. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Put the crust in the freezer to set while preparing filling.

2 1/2 lb. (5 8-oz. pkgs.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate {cut or break into small pieces if not using chips}
1 tsp. vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Place the chocolate and vegetable oil in small microwaveable bowl, and heat in the microwave on medium for one minute. Stir. If needed, continue heating and stirring the chocolate in 30-second increments until completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
Pour about 1/3 of the cheesecake filling into a medium bowl and add the cooled melted chocolate. Stir until combined.
Remove crust from freezer and set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills in case the pan leaks. Pour the chocolate cheesecake filling into the crust first, then pour the remaining filling into the crust up to the brim of the crust/pan (you may not need to pour in all the cheesecake filling depending on the size of the pan you used). Bake 10 minutes; without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, prepare the caramel.

Salted Caramel:
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter cubed
2/3 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

Melt the sugar over medium high heat in a large pot. Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color. Add the butter and stir it in until melted. Pour in the heavy cream (mixture will foam) and whisk until you get a smooth sauce. You may have some lumps but keep stirring until they have melted. Remove from heat and let cool. {If you still have some lumps in the caramel after it has cooled – strain it through a fine mesh strainer}. Store, covered, in the fridge.

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Immediately remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Let stand 1-2 minutes, then whisk together until a smooth, thick ganache is formed.
Let the ganache sit to thicken a bit so that it is suitable for spreading. (To speed thickening, place the bowl in the fridge or freezer and whisk every 10 minutes to ensure even cooling until the desired consistency is reached.)

Roasted Pecans:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and roast for about 10-15 minutes or until browned and fragrant. Let cool.

Assembly: Remove cheesecake from fridge. Place it on a plate or cake stand. Remove the sides of the spring form pan. Pour the salted caramel on top of the cake {as much as you would like}. Put back in fridge. Meanwhile, prepare the ganache. Once the ganache is made, remove the cheesecake from the fridge and pour ganache on top of the caramel layer {as much as you would like}. Garnish with roasted pecans.

Adapted from Call Me Cupcakes and Annie’s Eats

Chocolate + Salted Caramel Cheesecake @themerrythought
So what’s your favorite dessert to indulge in?


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