Friday, November 11, 2016

Peanut Butter Maple Caramel Cheesecake

I came up with the recipe for this caramel sauce one afternoon while my baby was napping, and now I want to put it on everything.  I've dipped apple slices in it, spooned it over ice cream, and of course, drizzled it all over this creamy cheesecake, and, undoubtedly, there will be a cake this fall featuring a pretty caramel drip.

It's a simple caramel to make - no thermometer required - and cooks up in just a few minutes, which is helpful for me these days with a little baby.  The combination of the peanut butter with brown sugar, vanilla and maple, and a touch of salt, is a beautiful marriage of fall flavors that pairs beautifully with the silky vanilla bean cheesecake.

This is my favorite no-bake vanilla cheesecake made with gelatin, and if you've followed my blog for a while, you'll know that I never bake cheesecakes anymore.  This version is just so smooth and creamy, without the tedium of baking a cheesecake in a water bath and then waiting for it to cool, that all my cheesecake recipes are now based off of this one.

Have you ever loved something or someone so much that you miss them, ache for them, even when they're right next to you?  I used to feel that way every Sunday night, the first year my husband and I were dating.  Since we lived so far apart, we'd spend every weekend together before having to say goodbye until the next weekend.  Those Sunday nights together, the last few hours of another wonderful two days together, were shadowed with the awareness of the night's end, goodbye kisses, and a long drive back to a quiet apartment.  Who knew that five days could last so long?

I didn't know it was possible to feel that way again until having a baby.  While I was making lunch this afternoon, he fell asleep in his swing in our living room, which is unusual for him, since he likes to be held to fall asleep.  And now, looking at his sweet little scrunched face across the room from me, listening to him as he sighs and whimpers in his sleep, he's simply too far away.  He's right there, but I miss him so much.

Peanut Butter Maple Caramel Cheesecake

  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • salted peanuts
Preheat the oven to 325 F.  In a bowl, combine the graham crackers and salt.  Drizzle with the melted butter and toss with a fork until moistened.  Press against the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch springform pan.  Bake for 12 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant.  Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

Pour 1/4 cup cream into a microwave-safe dish.  Stir in the gelatin and let stand for 5 minutes; it will be thick and clumpy.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds to dissolve the gelatin and stir with a fork.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the remaining 1 1/4 cups cream with the vanilla at medium-high speed until soft peaks form, gradually adding the powdered sugar as the cream thickens.  In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the cream cheese and gelatin mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until smooth and thick with no lumps.  Immediately spread over the crust and smooth out the top.  Refrigerate for about 4-6 hours, until set.

In a saucepan over medium low heat, warm the peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, cream, vanilla and maple extracts, whisking occasionally until the ingredients are melted and smooth.  Whisk in the powdered sugar and cook, whisking occasionally to smooth out the sugar, for about 5 minutes, until bubbly and thick.  Pour into a glass jar and let cool to room temperature.

(This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups of caramel; refrigerate any unused caramel for topping ice cream or cake.

After the cheesecake is set, remove from the springform pan.  Drizzle with the caramel and sprinkle with peanuts.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

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