Happy Sunday and Happy National Cheesecake Day!
I love hearing about “National _______” days and am aways disappointed when I don’t get to participate due to poor planning. I’m still kind of sad I missed National Daiquiri Day. When I heard that today is National Cheesecake Day, I was determined not to miss it and decided that there was no better way to celebrate than to make my own cheesecake and share the recipe with y’all.
Now, inventive flavor combinations are, admittedly, not my strong suit. I tend to stick to the classics, like chocolate and peanut butter, but this time I wanted something fun and a little bit different. When Emily suggested salted caramel, I took it a step further by deciding to add a pretzel crust. My reasoning? Cheesecake can be pretty sweet on its own, even without the addition of caramel. I figured that the added salt from the pretzels would take the sweetness back just a notch. And it did, thankfully.
For this cheesecake, I combined two recipes I’d never used before (Eep!), and just ran with them. If you know me, you know that’s not really like me at all, but I was pretty confident that both recipes would be great and that my flavor combination would be awesome.
The salted caramel sauce is this one from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Its a super tasty, fairly foolproof salted caramel recipe. The basic cheesecake recipe is this one from King Arthur Flour. I swapped out the flour from the cookie crust for crushed pretzels, omitted the lemon, and added in the salted caramel swirl in place of the fruit topping.
The finished product was every bit as delicious and rich a cheesecake as I thought it might be and a very small piece went a long way, in my opinion. Even April wanted some.
Now, I know cheesecake can be intimidating because of the long bake and the chance that it could overcook and be dry or undercook and be cheesecake soup, but I really encourage you to make this cheesecake. The original recipe suggests that you use a thermometer to test the doneness about 1 inch in from the edge, and I cannot tell you enough how much of a difference this makes. Cheesecake is done when it “jiggles,” but this is pretty subjective, if you ask me. Using a thermometer takes out the guessing and leads to a perfectly rich, perfectly creamy cheesecake, even without the use of a water bath.
I really hope you try and LOVE this cheesecake recipe, even if you just make it so you can have some extra salted caramel sauce for your ice cream. Who am I kidding, I definitely suggest just making the salted caramel sauce, if you’re not quite ready for a foray into cheesecake baking. Feel free to sub out the pretzel crust on this for a more traditional graham cracker crust or for the original cookie type crust from the King Arthur recipe. I won’t be offended.
Be sure to tell me how your cheesecake baking expedition goes by commenting, emailing me at email@example.com, tweeting @bakeratlawblog, or telling me on Facebook at Baker at Law. And don’t forget to pin this recipe to save it for later!
P.S. Here’s one more April O’Neil picture. She really wanted this cheesecake.
Salted Caramel Swirl Cheesecake
Creamy and delicious cheesecake swirled with salted caramel sauce on a pretzel crust bottom. A great blend of salty and sweet.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup whipping cream/heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cup crushed salted sourdough hard pretzels I used approximately 1/2 a barrel of Utz pretzels and ran it through the food processor for a few minutes
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 4 8 ounce packages regular cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream
Salted Caramel Sauce (Adapted from https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/homemade-salted-caramel-recipe/)
In a medium saucepan, melt sugar over medium to medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden or metal utensil. Be careful not to let the sugar burn.
You'll know the sugar is melted when it becomes liquid and golden in color. Before reaching this stage, however, it will go through a stage where it clumps together.
When the sugar is completely melted, add in the butter, stirring until completely melted. For me this took about 2 minutes.
If the mixture starts to separate, it may be helpful to stir with a whisk. When stirring the mixture be very careful not to burn yourself on any splattering butter and sugar, as they are VERY hot.
Slowly and very carefully, stir in the whipping cream. The cream may splash and splatter at this point because of the temperature difference.
Let the mixture boil for 1 minute without stirring.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the salt. Set aside to cool. I placed mine in the fridge while I worked on the rest of the cheesecake.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 10 inch springform pan by lightly greasing with cooking spray or butter.
In a medium bowl, mix together the the crushed pretzels, sugar, and melted butter until incorporated.
Carefully stir the egg into the pretzel mixture until no more egg is visible.
Pour your crust mixture into the bottom of your springform pan and spread evenly across the bottom and sides of the pan.
I find it helpful to use the side and bottom of a straight sided measuring cup to get an even thickness all the way around the pan. This also helps get a nicely packed bottom, so that no filling leaks through.
Bake the crust for 15 minutes until browned and firm. It may start to separate a little from the pan. This is okay and won't affect the bake. Set aside the crust while you prepare the filling.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees while the crust cools.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer), mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and flour until smooth. Scrape the bowl a few times as you do this to prevent any cheesecake from remaining on the side of the bowl.
Add in the salt and vanilla and stir to incorporate, then add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Again, scrape the sides periodically to ensure everything is evenly mixed. Once all the eggs are incorporated, stir in the sour cream.
Assembly and Baking
Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust, smoothing out the filling as much as possible.
Add dollops of the cooled salted caramel sauce to the top of the cheesecake filling. I used about 1/2 of the salted caramel sauce for this, but feel free to use more, if you like. Using a knife, swirl the cheesecake and caramel together.
Save the rest of your caramel in the fridge for ice cream or another recipe!
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until jiggly in the middle and set on the outside edges, with a lightly browned top.
Oven temperatures vary, so you may bake for longer than this. Mine took about an hour. The middle will NOT seem done at this point.
It's useful to have a meat thermometer to test doneness. The edges of the cheesecake (about 1 inch in) should reach about 175 degrees. Much higher than this and the cheesecake won't be creamy. Less and it will be delicious cheesecake soup.
Turn off your oven and prop open the door (a folded up potholder works wonders for this). Leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven for an hour. The middle of the cheesecake will continue to firm up from the residual heat.
Remove cheesecake to finish cooling. Enjoy!