You’ve heard me say many a time that I am not a baker . . . meaning I can follow a recipe and bake cookies, cakes and pies but understanding the science of baking or understanding the math of ratios . . . well, that isn’t my forte’ . . . in fact . . .
To say that I am ‘math-impaired’ is an understatement . . . several years ago I took an Accounting 101 class and the instructor was so frustrated, he threw an eraser across the room at me . . . so let’s just say that I have a serious case of ‘math-anxiety’ . . .
Fast-forward a few more years following the eraser-tossing incident; I’ve moved to the Midwest and returned to college even though I knew math was going to be part of the curriculum. The Professor and I had met and ‘weren’t dating’ but he came over to my apartment every afternoon to help get me through Algebra . . . it wasn’t pretty . . . I swear, the man should be nominated for Sainthood because seriously? My eyes glaze over, my heart starts racing and all I hear is Greek . . . which I don’t speak.
I barely passed the class and during Spring Break, we got married; I finished out the semester but once Algebra was out of the way, I had one more math component to complete in order to graduate . . . soooooo . . . we looked at all the options: Calculus was out of the question as was Trigonometry, Algebra II, Computer Science and a multitude of other offerings. The only class that looked like a remote possibility was Finite Math and everyone who had taken it previously, said was easy; I registered and hit the bookstore to pick up the required book.
Once home, The Professor began flipping through the pages . . . back and forth, back and forth . . . moving from one chapter to the next . . . looking at the index . . . reviewing some of the test material . . . and finally . . . big sigh . . . he snapped the book shut and said, ‘You’re gonna flunk!’
And with that I burst into tears at which time he said, ‘You don’t have to go back – you can quit’ . . . and that, was the end of my college career . . . sigh . . . a real baker I will never be but it doesn’t stop me from making delicious goodies like this oh-so-light-and-creamy vanilla cheesecake . . . with a tangy sour cream topping . . . drizzled with gooey homemade caramel sauce . . . and sprinkled with glistening flakes of sea salt . . .
You’re welcome . . .
SMITH BITES NOTES: This rivals any cheesecake I’ve ever eaten – rich yet light and silky, buttery balanced with the tang of sour cream . . . and salted caramel . . . swoon! Yes, this takes some time – this is not a ‘quick’ recipe but I broke it down into segments throughout my day and once it was baked and cooled, tucked it away in my refrigerator before going to bed, ensuring a lovely meld of flavors the next day. It is heavenly and sooooo worth the extra time!
SALTED CARAMEL VANILLA CHEESECAKE
Adapted from Donna Hay
- 3-1/2 cups finely ground ginger cookies
- ½ cup ground almonds
- 2/3 cups butter, melted
- 1-1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
- 2 packages cream cheese (8 ounce packages)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons Karo syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
- Maldon salt for sprinkling
FOR THE TOPPING:
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 Tablespoon Confectioner’s sugar
FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE:
- 1 cup half & half
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup butter, cut into pieces
TO MAKE THE CARAMEL SAUCE:
- Place the half & half, butter and sugar into a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Increase heat to high, bring to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes or until thickened. Do not stir the caramel while boiling, but keep an eye on it so the caramel doesn’t scorch.
- Once thickened, set aside to cool.
TO MAKE THE CHEESECAKE:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan, then line with parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure the entire bottom and sides are covered; set aside.
- Place ground ginger cookies and ground almonds into a food processor and pulse a couple of times until they are incorporated. Add butter and process to combine. Press mixture into prepared springform pan and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Place ricotta and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 5-6 minutes or until smooth. Add the sugar and beat for another 3-4 minutes until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the Karo syrup, salt and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat until well combined.
- Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan.
- Place the filled pan in a larger baking dish and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 1 hour, 30 minutes or until firm to the touch. (Mine took 1 hour, 50 minutes).
- Remove cheesecake from the larger baking dish and allow to cool in the springform pan. Once completely cooled, refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.
TO MAKE THE SOUR CREAM TOPPING:
- Place the whipping cream, sour cream, confectioner’s sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.
- Top the cheesecake and the cream, drizzle with the caramel sauce and sprinkle with sea salt flakes to serve.
Thanks for posting this with ability to comment, I made the caramel sauce first in the method, and left it too cool and it set quite thick in the pot, not a pouring consistency…and sadly I thought to reheat to soften, and all I achieved was butter separation. Also other caramel sauce recipes use white sugar, for caramel sauce and brown sugar for toffee. So how do I get the sauce consistency…is the non stirring during boiling the secret here? Donna’s method doesn’t comment on stirring at all! I will remake tomorrow and see what happens. Cheers!
Do you cook the cheesecake again after cooled once topping is applied ? That has been my experience. Please advise ? Thank you
Hi Kathleen ~ I did not bake the cheesecake again after the topping was applied; my guess is that because the cheesecake is completely baked, baking again might dry the cake out? But if you’re feeling adventurous, go for it – and let me know how it worked out!
Wow, what a recipe. If I made it in advance, would you suggest putting the cream topping on, or leaving until time to serve…
Truly, truly one of my top 5 cheesecakes ever! I recommend adding the topping when it’s time to serve as this is not the type of whipped topping we’re used to here in the US – i.e., because this is made w/half & half, it does not have the same ‘lift’ to it as regular whipping cream. If you prefer that type of topping, feel free to use regular whipping cream – good luck!
Is it supposed to rise up and brown? I just tried this recipe and I’m feeling a little anxious about how it turned out
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Whether you consider yourself a “real” baker or not, I consider that a pretty amazing cheesecake! Can’t wait to give it a try.
Looks like New Year’s Eve desert to me!
Thank you. Seriously? This is one ridiculously delicious looking cheesecake. And I know cheesecakes. Brilliant, Debra! I’m dying over here to get a piece. Or make it.
Well you may not be a math whiz but that sure hasn’t stopped you from making drool-inducing desserts! This cheesecake looks absolutely insane. Like, I want to scoop it off the computer screen and eat it, right now! Just wow.
Oh, Debra–you’ve done it again. This blog post is too funny! I certainly burst into tears a few times over difficult classes myself back in the day…so tragic at the time, so glad those school days are over…tee hee!
Stop it… just stop it. I can’t look at those pictures again out of fear that I’m going to attempt to eat my computer screen. Cheesecake is my drug of choice and salted caramel just puts it all WAY over the top. I love it… oh how I love it!
I have never been a math person so I hear ya on the frustration, luckily my husband is so we balance each other out. That is one gorgeous looking cheesecake and salted caramel?! Well say no more.
I love the salted caramel on that!
Only basic math should ever be a requirement unless you need it for your career of choosing. I hate math. My absolute worse subject in school. Hate hate hate. And this is coming form a sister of someone who did awesome. Polar opposites. Sigh! I feel your pain. Cheesecake… I don’t eat it, but I LOVE to make it 🙂 Yours looks fantastic!
I just tripped over my jaw…that was on the floor…curled into a big goofy dazed grin. I’m cheesy for cheesecake and this one is AWESOME! Thank you ;D
I think this is the best cheesecake EVER!
I am recently obsessed with cheesecake crusts made from ginger cookies. And this cheesecake is amazing too!
OMG..I LOVE the steamy goodness rising in that shot! I can smell that gorgeous salted caramel right now.
Math whiz or no math whiz, you can whip up a mean cheesecake, Deb. Don’t count yourself out as a baker yet! This truly is mouth-watering.
For the record, I know Debra could pass that Finite Math class, finish college, or do almost anything she puts her mind to. (As is evident with the wonderful creations at Smith Bites) I knew that being newly married and working extra long hours at the time was enough without Finite Math. Yes, it would have been a challenge…but I have no doubts she (we) could do it. Maybe she should…
PREACH IT PROFESSOR! we know this gal, love this gal, and know that she can do anything she damn well chooses and puts her heart, soul, and spirit into! and for the record, know she speaks what she darns well chooses, also. just sign us in as ‘ds believers’
I keep wondering when salted caramel will ‘jump the shark’ but maybe it’s sharkproof. there is just something about that rich and wonderful sauce with the caramel to accentuate it that I dearly love.
Know what I love about this the most though. The restraint. I love cheesecake that has an element that is creamy and cream cheesy sweet and so many people ruin them today with candy bars and tons of ‘gunk.’ My favorite is a plain one with a simple lemon topping but I can see this has huge potential Deb. Of course, the words ‘Donna Hay’ don’t hurt either!
A keeper for sure.
OMG in the last couple of years I’ve been hooked on anything salted caramel. This is so temptingly delicous looking!
I’m swooning right now. Every layer of this cheesecake sounds (and looks!) like perfection. Sometimes things are worth the wait and extra effort!
I so very much want to make this soon. I shall.
And who needs math when you can create tastiness like this?