Caramel macadamia nut cheesecake

If anyone is looking for a great dessert recipe to make and bring to a holiday gathering in the next couple days this could be exactly what you are looking for. I made this cake for my dear hubby’s 37th birthday last week. Cheesecake is by far his favorite dessert but its not exactly healthy and it can be time consuming, labor intensive and expensive so I only make it for special occasions. Each year he takes some time to research the options and then asks for some ridiculously over the top cake which I oblige because it’s his birthday. As I previously mentioned, macadamia nuts are his favorite and I just happened to have some left over nuts from the mocha macadamia shortbread cookies I made a few weeks ago.

As per usual I looked and looked and could not find a recipe that I liked so I gathered some recipes and winged it. Fortunately everything turned out really well and the cake was amazing.  I must warn you that this makes a large amount of cake, not only is it a large spring from pan but it fills it to the top but the good news is that the cake seems to get better with time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the outside of a 12 inch spring form pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, covering bottom and up sides to catch any leakage and to help the cake cook evenly. In food processor, crush the graham crackers to fine crumbs. Mix in melted butter and brown sugar pulsing until crumbs hold together; place graham cracker mixture into the spring form pan. Spray the bottom of a dry measuring cup with cooking oil and use it to evenly spread and pack the crust in the bottom of the pan going up the sides and inch or so. Place the foil covered pan on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake 10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool while making the cheesecake.

Start by putting white chocolate chips and butter in medium bowl. Melt in the microwave by cooking for 30 seconds at a time, stirring as you go. Once melted stir in sugar and half and half, mixing until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge for 30 min.

In a saucepan, bring sugar, water, and lemon juice to a boil over medium high heat. When caramel darkens you may swirl pan to even color. Take caramel to a medium gold color. Meanwhile dissolve cornstarch in half and half, once caramel is ready, remove from heat and add cornstarch mixture. Caramel will bubble up but will stop as you mix everything together, then stir in butter. Allow caramel to cool as you make the cheesecake batter.

Set oven rack in lower third of oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. In your stand mixer, beat cream cheese for 3 minutes on medium speed or until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar followed by the eggs, one by one, mixing each only until absorbed. Add the vanilla, stop mixing, and don’t over mix or cheesecake could separate during the cooking process.

Remove 1/3 of cheesecake mixture and place in a separate bowl. Mix remaining 2/3 of the cheesecake batter with all of the white chocolate ganache and pour into baked crust. Mix the set aside cheesecake with ½ of the caramel and our over ganache cheesecake in the pan, using a bamboo skewer or other tool to swirl the two flavors of cheesecake together. Pour warm water into a large baking dish and place on the bottom shelf to form a water bath. Place the cheesecake, still sitting on the parchment lined baking sheet onto an oven shelf in the lower half of the oven.  Bake for 2 – 2 ½ hours or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for an hour before carefully removing the outside shell of the spring form pan.

Toast macadamia nuts on baking sheet at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Place toasted nuts in the food process and pulse until coarsely chopped. Reheat the remaining caramel until warm and pourable, stir in half of the chopped nuts. Place your cheesecake on a cake plate or serving tray and then pour the caramel nut mixture over the top allowing for some to gently drip down the sides. Top the caramel with the remaining chopped nuts. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 8 to 24 hours before eating.

Much Love, Aislinn and Emily

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