Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Brownie Caramel Cheesecake

There's not really a backstory for this recipe.  Twenty or so years ago I thought I'd subscribe to one of those menu clubs.  You know them... Pay x amount of dollars and receive a dozen recipe cards to go in the bulky unwieldy large couldn't find a place for it  handy complimentary cheap plastic beautiful acrylic file box behind the confusing appropriate tabs.  You could have an entire year of expensive meals and non-kid-friendly desserts taking up a whole corner of the counter at your fingertips!  After three months I cancelled the subscription.  The plastic box became storage for Lego pirate weapons.  I did keep one recipe, though, and have made it for us through the years:  Brownie Caramel Cheesecake.

The pecan crust recipe comes from Brother #3.  I think he got it from Emeril but I wouldn't swear to it.  I use roasted pecans in everything but pecan pies.  Roasting brings out their nutty flavor and keeps them from getting soggy too quickly in cakes and salads.

Pecan Crust
2 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks butter
2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt (strictly optional - I never use it)

Preheat oven to 450.  Mix flour, salt, and butter until consistency of cornmeal.  Add ground or finely chopped pecans.  Press mixture firmly in bottom and two inches up sides of a nine inch springform pan.  Bake for ten minutes until golden brown.

Now that's what the instructions say do.  You can certainly get cornmeal texture if the butter is cold.  I'd forgotten to leave the butter cold, having icing in mind this afternoon.  Does it make a difference if it's cold or not?  Not in this crust.
See?  All nice and mixed together and I didn't even get
the pastry knife thingy dirty!
I've discovered over the years to NOT start on the bottom
of the springform pan and then up the sides.  I start on the
sides, making them artfully not level all the way around.
And then I press the crust into the bottom.  This is a ten inch pan, 
by the way.  The recipe says nine inch but you'll regret using it.
And do yourself a favor and put the springform pan on or in 
something else.  Butter has a way of cooking out of the crust
to make a mess in the oven.

Let the crust cool completely.

Brownie Caramel Cheesecake:

1 14 ounce package caramels
5 ounces evaporated milk
2 cups crumbled unfrosted brownies
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
8 ounces sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine caramels and milk in a small heavy saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring often until caramels melt.  Pour over crust.  Sprinkle crumbled brownies over caramel.  Beat cream cheese at medium speed of mixer until light and fluffy.  Gradually add sugar, mixing well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended.  Stir in sour cream and vanilla.  Pour batter carefully over brownies.  Back at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until cheesecake is almost set.  Turn off heat and let cheesecake remain in oven another hour, undisturbed.  remove from oven and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack.  Cover and let chill at least four hours.  remove sides from springform pan.  Garnish with chocolate curls and whipped cream, if desired.

That's the EXACT recipe.  Do I do it that way?  uhmmmmm No'm.  I don't.

I make 'from scratch' brownies.  Did I have to?  Nope.
In a bind for time, I've used mixes.  In a real bind for
time I've used Little Debbie brownies.

 Do you see a pot?  No.  Microwave these candies.  Two minutes on
high, stirring to break up the candies and then three minutes on medium.
The quick-melt caramel chips work great!
A whisk will make the melted caramel nice and smooth.
Let it cool while putting together the rest of the cheesecake.
 Whip the cream cheese until very fluffy.  It makes for a
very smooth texture.
 Pinky extended is the only way to gradually add brown sugar.
 If you're using farm eggs like I am, always (and I do mean always)
break them individually into a bowl or cup.  Forget a rotten apple.
A rotten egg really will spoil the whole recipe.
 MMMmmmmmm...  Look at that KitchenAid go!
 Stir in the sour cream?  I don't think so.  Turn the KitchenAid or
mixer down to the lowest setting.
 Putting the caramel on the bottom could possibly result
in baked caramel under the crust. You'll need
a prybar to get it out of the pan.  If there is the smallest
fissure in the crust, the caramel will go through it if put on the crust first.
Trust me.  I know these things...  Put the brownies on first.
This is THREE cups of brownies, by the way.
Two cups just doesn't cover.

Pour the batter on ever-so-gently.  It'll push brownies and melted
caramels around if rushed.
It'll take another thirty minutes beyond this point.  
I don't know why but it can't be rocket

Everything else is pretty much like the recipe says.  As much as I love chocolate, I don't garnish this cheesecake.  It'd be more awesome if it were, I'm sure, but a chocoholic has to draw the line somewhere.

Y'all enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. sounds divine and I'm going to try it in the next few weeks. Thanks Mary, your the best!
    Smooches ;)