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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chocolate Cheesecake w/ Whisky Toffee Shards

Chocolate Cheesecake with Whisky Toffee Shards for National Cheesecake Day
I'll just go ahead and get it out of the way. YES. I meant to have a layer of smoky Single Malt Scotch whisky-infused caramel sitting atop my creamy chocolat cheesecake. YES. I accidentally cooked my caramel too long and it turned to toffee. YES. The cheesecake and flavor profile was too delicious to abandon all together, so I went with it.

Phew. Now you don't have to wonder.

Now, I the toffee would have been easy enough to just pick up (as in, a solid disc easily lifted off), but after tasting it and weighing it against my time constraints, I decided to just go with it. But it is a tad bit intrusive in the grand scheme of things, so you may want to just leave it off and drizzle it with some chocolate or caramel, top it with some whipped cream, or better yet - just succeed in making a good layer of caramel (ba dum bum).

Chocolate Cheesecake with Whisky Toffee Shards for National Cheesecake Day
But the cheesecake itself, it's creamy and rich and perfectly worthy of topping any crust. And since I really wanted a cheesecake to share with you on National Cheesecake Day - taaaa daaaa! 

Chocolate Cheesecake with (or without) Whisky Toffee Shards
Creamy chocolate cheesecake adorned with shards of peaty-whisky toffee and grains smoked sea salt sits atop a pecan shortbread crust.
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Chocolate Cheesecake w/ Whisky Toffee Shards
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 40 minutes + overnight refrigeration
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert soy-free vegetarian chocolate pecans whisk(e)y cream cheese cake American

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
    for the shortbread crust:
    • 2/3 cup (3 ounces / 84 g) pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
    • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces / 84 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
    • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4.4 ounces / 124 g) all-purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup (2.6 ounces / 75 g) granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon (.2 ounce / 6 g) coarse sea salt
    for the chocolate cheesecake filling:
    • 1 tablespoon hot water
    • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
    • 6 ounces (170 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
    • 20 ounces (~2 1/2 cups) cream cheese
    • 3/4 cup (5.4 ounces / 150 g) superfine sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 2/3 cup (6 ounces / 168 g) sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • pinch of fine sea salt (or smoked sea salt, if you want to echo the toffee)
    for the salted whisky toffee:
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1.5 ounces (1 1/2 tablespoons) Single Malt Scotch (a good, peaty one like Laphroaig)
    • 1/4 teaspoon smoked sea salt
    to finish:
    • smoked sea salt
    Heat the oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment, then clamp on the ring.

    making the shortbread crust:
    Combine the toasted and cooled pecans, butter, flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of a food processor; pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Slice into preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

    Leave the oven on at the same temperature.

    making the cheesecake filling:
    Put a kettle or a pot of water on to boil. Stir the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and hot water together until dissolved.

    Put the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth (you could also melt the chocolate over a hot water bath); set aside.

    Rinse and dry the bowl and blade of your food processor (that you used to make the crust earlier). Add the cream cheese to the food processor and run until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and run again to combine. Add the whole eggs and yolks, sour cream, vanilla, and both of the reserved items (dissolved cocoa and espresso and melted chocolate). Process until smooth and well-combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

    Lay out two sheets of plastic wrap, overlapping like a "+". Set the cooled pan in the center, then bring the plastic up and wrap the sides. Repeat with two sheets of foil. This will form a protective barrier to stop the water bath from seeping into the pan.

    Set the wrapped pan into a roasting pan and pour in the chocolate cheesecake filling. Set on the center rack of the oven, and carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan (not the cheesecake pan), so that it comes about halfway up the sides of the inner pan.
    chocolate cheesecake filling being poured onto a par-baked pecan shortbread crust
    Slide into preheated oven and bake for 60 minutes, or until the top the cheesecake is set, but the inside trembles a bit when you gently move it around. Remove the foil and plastic wrap from the outside of the pan, then set on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

    making the whisky toffee (optional):
    Once the cheesecake comes to room temperature, you can make the caramel.

    Combine the sugar, water, and cream in a small saucepan, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, taking care NOT to stir once all of the sugar has dissolved. If sugar crystals form on the side of the pan, just dip a pastry brush into water and brush them down.

    Let boil and bubble for about 5 minutes, or until it turns amber in color, swirling the pan from time to time. Remove from heat, and stir in the butter and whisky with a wooden spoon. Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes or so (but not so long that it will harden).

    putting it all together:
    Gently pour the slightly cooled (and still liquid) toffee mixture over the cheesecake. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight, before serving.

    At service, use the back of a chef's knife to crack the toffee disc into shards. Dip a long knife into hot water before sliding it through the cheesecake to cut a slice. Sprinkle each slice with a good smattering of smoked sea salt.

    If you "mess up" and get caramel instead of toffee, then lucky you.

    And of course, you can leave the toffee/caramel off altogether, if you'd rather. The chocolate cheesecake on the pecan shortbread crust is delicious all by itself. Or with a drizzle of chocolate. Or storebought caramel. Or whipped cream. get the point.

    -crust and caramel (with apologies on my mangling of the caramel) adapted from Aida Mollenkamp
    Chocolate Cheesecake with Whisky Toffee Shards for National Cheesecake Day

    Fortunately I've teamed up with a bunch (and I mean a bunch) of bloggers, who probably didn't mess up their cheesecakes, in order to celebrate National Cheesecake Day! Thanks so much to our host, Roxana from Roxana's Home Baking for bringing us all together. Now, check out this amazing list of cheesecake and cheesecake-goodies that's sure to blow your cheesecake-loving mind.

    Baked Cheesecakes:
    No Bake Cheesecakes:
    Cheesecake Beverages:
    Cheesecake Cookies and Bars:
    Cheesecake Desserts and Treats:
    Frozen Cheesecakes and Treats:

    What's YOUR favorite kind of cheesecake!?