Caramel Toffee Cheesecake
Cheesecake. I feel like you either love it, or you’re just not a fan. However, for those who love it, not all cheesecake is created equal. For me, I can take or leave a mediocre cheesecake, or even sometimes a decent cheesecake. But a perfect plain cheesecake with a fresh fruit topping? Or the perfectly baked cheesecake with an amazing crust that could stand alone covered in ooey gooey homemade caramel sauce? Um, YES PLEASE.
I present to you the latter. This cheesecake is truly amazing. The crust is super flavorful thanks to Biscoff cookies and toffee bits, and there’s TONS of it. The chocolate layer provides a great contrast to the super sweet caramel. The process by which you bake the cheesecake turns out an incredible texture with absolutely no cracks. But even if there were some, you wouldn’t know it because then you cover it all with such a freakin’ delicious caramel sauce it’s difficult not to just eat it by the spoonful. Garnishes of more toffee bits and whipped cream at the edges make it a dessert worthy of centerpiece status at your table.
I wouldn’t say this is hard to make, but it’s definitely time consuming. There are many steps to the process: the homemade caramel, the crust, the filling batter, the long bake time, the cooling time in the oven, the cooling time on the table, the chilling time in the fridge, the topping, and the whipped cream. 9 components/steps in total. But I promise you that it’s worth it, especially if you’re making it for a special event, party, or for someone special who just loves toffee or caramel. This is a winner.
Adapted from Yammie’s Noshery
3 cups of ground Biscoff cookies (this should be about a full sleeve of cookies)*
1/2 cup toffee bits, plus more for decoration
1/2 cup light brown sugar (56g)
2 sticks melted butter
1.25 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (7.5oz)
3 packages softened cream cheese (8oz each)
1 cup sour cream (8oz)
1.5 cups sugar (300g)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup caramel sauce, plus more for decoration:
1/2 cup sugar (100g)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
whipped cream for decoration:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
9” or 10” Springform pan
Food processor (mini, if you have one)
Roasting pan, or oven-safe dish with at least 2” high sides, large enough that your springform pan can sit inside it
Small saucepan, ideally stainless - not non-stick or one with a colored bottom
Piping bag & pastry tip of your choosing (for the whipped cream decoration)
*If you don’t have access to Biscoff cookies, or just don’t want to use them, graham cracker crumbs are fine.
The cheesecake will keep in the fridge covered for up to one week. Serve cold.
Spread 1/2 cup of your caramel (or the rest of it, whatever you want evenly on the top of the cheesecake, then pipe whipped cream dollops/flowers/circles around the edge. Sprinkle the caramel and/or whipped cream with toffee bits, and you’re done!
Once it’s chilled and ready to decorate, add 3TB sugar to a small food processor and grind until fine. Then add 1c heavy cream and blend until thickened (about 20-40 seconds). If you don’t have a small food processor and you just want to whip it like regular whipped cream that’s fine too - you can use 3TB of powdered sugar instead of regular to avoid graininess.
Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and let it cool in the oven for another 30 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it cool completely on the counter, then cover it with aluminum foil and chill it in the fridge at least 6 hours or overnight.
Open your oven, pull out an oven rack, and place the roasting pan with the springform with the batter inside it on the rack. Then pour water into the roasting pan using a measuring cup with a spout or some other specific-to-pouring vessel (so you don’t splash any water on the batter). You want to fill it with enough water that the water comes up halfway or three quarters up the side of the springform pan.
If you’re using a 9” pan you’ll definitely have some batter left over; if you’re using a 10” you might. Either way if you do, you can put it in some ramekins and cook alongside the cheesecake (not necessarily in a water bath), maybe taking it out of the oven 20 or so minutes early. It’ll be a nice side snack for later after you chill it, while you’re letting the whole cheesecake chill overnight.
Take out your springform pan and wrap it (not the top, obviously, just the bottom and up the sides) with aluminum foil. Place it in your roasting pan (or whatever you’re going to use for your water bath, and then fill the springform pan almost to the brim with batter.
Lightly beat 4 eggs with a fork or whisk in a separate bowl, then add to your batter and beat on medium to medium high until fully combined.
Add 1TB vanilla and a 1/4 cup of your room temperature (or cooled) caramel sauce, and beat until combined.
To make the cheesecake batter, beat your 3 packages of cream cheese (24oz) in your stand mixer on medium high until smooth, then add 8oz sour cream (1c) and 300g (1.5c) sugar. Beat on medium to medium high for 2-3 minutes until incorporated.
Bake for 5 minutes, then spread the chocolate chips into a smooth layer of chocolate with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Put the pan in the freezer until you’re ready to fill it with the cheesecake batter.
Sprinkle the bottom with 7.5oz (1.25c) bitter or semisweet chocolate chips.
Press evenly into the bottom of your springform pan and up the sides - there should be plenty to go all the way up the sides with a reasonably thick coat, so avoid adding more to the bottom until you’ve done that.
Make the crust by mixing 3 cups ground Biscoff cookies (or graham crackers) with 1/2c toffee bits, 103g (1/2c) light brown sugar, and 2 sticks of melted butter. Mix with a fork, whisk, or clean fingers until all the crumbs are completely moistened.
Preheat your oven to 300F.
Make your caramel sauce first so that it will have some time to cool (and take your cream cheese out of the fridge to come to room temperature):
Place 100g sugar (1/2c) and 2TB corn syrup in a small saucepan, and add just barely enough water to moisten the sugar, taking care not to splash any of the sugar up onto the sides of the pan. Do not stir yet.
Heat on medium-high until it looks like the sugar is mostly dissolved, then give it a very gentle whisk until it’s fully dissolved. Then - don’t stir anymore! Let it come to a boil. (While you’re doing this make sure you’re getting your butter and heavy cream measured, and set it all right next to your stovetop so it’s ready to go when you need it.)
About a minute after it starts boiling you should hang out next to it and enjoy a break from prepping everything else below - just watch it. Once caramel starts turning color from clear to amber, it can go from light amber to burning VERY quickly. The amount of time it will take from this point until it starts turning amber is directly related to how much water you added at the beginning. It won’t start changing color until a significant amount of the water has evaporated, which is why you add only just enough to moisten the sugar. This stage could take 5-10 minutes, but since you never know, just be patient and don’t leave its side.
Once you see the amber color starting to develop around the edges, pick up your pan and give it a gentle swirl to distribute the color, then set it back on the heat to develop further until it looks like this photo.
As soon as it does, turn your heat to low and add your 3TB butter and whisk until it’s completely incorporated.
Let it simmer for about a minute (a little more or a little less is fine), then add your heavy cream. If your cream is particularly cold it might bubble up a lot so be careful (you can always warm it in the microwave beforehand if you’re worried, just don’t boil it). Whisk until homogenous - if your cream was cold it also might sieze up and harden momentarily - that’s fine, just keep whisking over low heat until it melts and is fully incorporated.
Add a pinch of salt, stir, and then pour into a glass measuring cup or bowl to put in the fridge to cool.