Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake with Salted Candied Pecans, Caramel and Toffee


I may never bake another cheesecake again.

Saying never is a big statement, though, and I hope you all won't hold me to that promise if I change my mind at some point, although I don't know why I would.  At the moment, though, I can't think of a good reason to want to bake a cheesecake.  I have had my share of frustration over the time consuming process, the water bath ruining the whole cake by leaking through punctures in the foil and soaking into the cake, and the overly browned tops.  I don't like a browned crust on top of cheesecake.




So after I made a Cookies and Cream Icebox Cheesecake a couple months ago, requiring no baking but simply some unflavored gelatin to thicken the filling as it chills, I knew that this was going to be my method from here on out.  And in my opinion, there's no easier way to achieve an equally fantastic tasting cheesecake - that is, if you can live without having eggs in your cheesecake.  And I think you can.  I know I can.  Especially if it means I can make the whole thing in approximately 30 minutes, with just a few more hours to let it firm up a little in the fridge.

On Friday, Jamie said to me, "Can we have cheesecake this weekend?"  As he asked the question, there was a small pan of special brownies for him cooling on the counter.  No, not that kind of special brownie...  These were Irish whiskey espresso brownies, with a generous dose of Jameson.  Very dark, rich and strong.  But still, he was asking for cheesecake.  The man has a sweet tooth, and I'm happy to oblige, since I get to indulge my desire to make and photograph all this wonderfulness, even if I don't get to eat much of it myself.




Of course, I knew that he would want something with caramel and chocolate, and so I created something truly decadent...  A "cookie dough" cheesecake, rich with flavors of brown sugar, peanut butter and vanilla bean, full of chocolate chips and salted candied pecans, with more salted candied pecans on top, and finished with a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkling of toffee bits.  What you see piled in the middle of the cheesecake are actually a few chocolate truffles, rolled in pecans, that I made from a small amount of ganache I had leftover from another project.

You could use plain pecans, but making the salted candied pecans first just makes this cheesecake a little more special.  And I think that every creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet mouthful would satisfy the child in all of us, the one that's inwardly longing for spoonful after spoonful of cookie dough, straight from the mixing bowl...

One Year Ago:    Blue Milk for a Curly Haired Girl, and Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins
Two Years AgoCherry Almond Crumble Pie


For my recipe for Salted Candied Pecans, click here for a previous blog post.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake with Salted Candied Pecans
printable recipe

  • 1 cup finely crushed graham crackers
  • 1 cup finely crushed salted candied pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup salted candied pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup salted candied pecans, chopped
  • ¼ cup caramel sauce
  • ¼ cup toffee bits

For the crust:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine crushed graham crackers, pecans, salt and melted butter. Transfer crumbs to an 8 or 9-inch spring form pan and press crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Note: Although I liked the thick crust on the bottom, Jamie thought it was too thick.  The ingredients for the crust can easily be cut in half for a thinner crust.

For the filling:
Pour 1/4 cup heavy cream into microwave-safe measuring cup. Add gelatin and whisk to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes; it will be thick and clumpy.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds to completely dissolve the gelatin.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the remaining 1 1/4 cups heavy cream and brown sugar at medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and peanut butter and beat at medium-high speed until smooth and thick with no lumps, about 2-3 minutes, scraping the bowl down a few times.

Beat in the vanilla bean paste and gelatin mixture until smooth and combined, another 1-2 minutes.  Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped pecans.  Spread the filling over the cooled crust and smooth out the top.

For the topping:
Garnish with more chopped pecans, caramel sauce and toffee bits.

Refrigerate for several hours before cutting and serving.

Yields 8-12 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen