A rich brown sugar caramel cheesecake with crushed pecans and a graham cracker crust with a homemade salted caramel sauce.
For the Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
- 1–2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (optional)
For the Cheesecake
For the Crust
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
- 32 ounces (4 8-ounce packages) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream,
- 1/4 cup caramel topping (recipe listed above)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon caramel extract (or sub vanilla)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
For the Toppings
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Leftover caramel topping
For the Caramel Sauce:
- Place the sugar and water in a 3-quart saucepan with high sides. Pick up the pan and rotate it to get the water into all the sugar. Place the pan over medium heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Do not stir the mixture at all.
- The mixture will begin to bubble. Let the sugar mixture cook for 8-10 minutes more. Again, do not stir the mixture at all while its bubbling.
- The color of the mixture will turn from clear to light amber to golden amber to slightly darker amber. Do not let it get too dark. Carefully watch the sugar mixture because it can burn very quickly.
- Remove the pan from the heat when the mixture turns darker amber and whisk in the butter very slowly. Once the butter is mixed in, VERY slowly add the cream while whisking constantly. Note the mixture will bubble fiercely when you add the cream but just keep whisking.
- Return the pan to the heat and let the caramel boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt for salted caramel if desired. Cool the mixture completely.
For the Cheesecake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a large rimmed baking sheet on the very bottom rack of the oven and fill it halfway with water. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Wrap the pan twice with heavy-duty aluminum foil or a slow cooker bag.
- For the crust: Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press the crumbs firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.
- For the filling: Beat the cream cheese until creamy and smooth. Add the brown sugar and beat until well combined. Add the heavy cream, 1/4 cup caramel topping, extracts and flour. Beat until everything is incorporated completely.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Make sure the eggs are fully incorporated but do not overbeat the batter.
- Pour the cheesecake mixture onto the prepared crust. Place the pan on the oven rack right above the tray of water. Bake for approximately 60 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Let the cheesecake cool for five minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the springform pan. Let the cheesecake cool for one hour then refrigerate it for 4 to 6 hours or until completely chilled.
For the Topping:
- Detach the springform pan ring and remove the cheesecake from the pan. Slide it onto the serving plate. Spread the caramel topping on the cheesecake right before serving. Sprinkle the pecans on top of the caramel.
- Prepare a batch of whipped cream: Chill the mixing bowl and beater blade for 5-10 minutes in the freezer or refrigerator. Beat the heavy cream in the chilled bowl and use an electric mixer to beat on medium-high speed until the cream thickens to soft peaks. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. Pipe along the edges of the cheesecake.
- Store-brought caramel vs homemade: Prepare the required caramel sauce prior to making the cheesecake and allow proper time to cool. If you’d like to use store-bought caramel, its is recommended that the caramel sauce for the cheesecake filling should be thin like an ice cream topping. The caramel sauce for the topping should be thick like a caramel dip for apples.
- Prep the pan properly- how to prevent leaks. Wrapping the pan twice with tin foil or using a slow-cooker bag is the best way to prevent leaks. If you love making cheesecake, check out this tutorial for preventing leaks.
- Storage tips: If you refrigerate the cheesecake with the caramel dip on top, the caramel will harden. Run a sharp knife under very hot water. Dry it off and very slowly cut through the caramel so that you do not crush the soft cheesecake. The hot knife will melt the caramel as you cut through.
- To store leftover caramel dip: Let the caramel mixture cool before spooning into a jar. Store the caramel in the refrigerator for up to one month. You may need to warm it up slightly in the microwave or allow it to come to room temperature before using.
- Recipe reprinted with permissions from St. Martin’s Press Cheesecake Love
- Category: Cheesecake
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American