Desserts,  Recipes

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust and Salted Caramel

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust and Salted Caramel

I’m frugal, I’ll admit it. I don’t mind spending money when I feel there is good bang for the buck (for example, I’ll spend more on a hotel room with a great view), but if I can make it myself, better and cheaper, then I will. That’s just a bonus, isn’t it?

When I decided I wanted to make a cheesecake with chocolate crust for Thanksgiving (and then again for Christmas Eve) I discovered that one could not just go to the store and buy chocolate cookie crumbs. I knew that graham cracker crumbs were available, but chocolate cookie crumbs only seem to be sold to restaurants. I could have cheated and bought some from work, but that wouldn’t work for you, would it? The only other option was to buy the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, but at $4 a package (and I thought I’d need two or maybe three), $8-$12 seemed excessive for just the crust on the cake. And have you seen the cost of cream cheese lately? This was quickly turning into a very expensive cheesecake.

I decided to make my own crust and found a wonderful recipe for chocolate wafers on Smitten Kitchen. Instead of cutting individual cookies, I rolled the dough out onto Silpat sheets on two sheet pans and baked them that way. It was much easier and I simply broke the sheets of baked cookies into pieces to grind into crumbs for the crust. Oh, and the best part? I think the cost of the crust was about $1, with no processed unidentifiable ingredients, and it tasted great.

This cheesecake has something for everyone; great vanilla flavor from the beans (my latest obsession), chocolate for the chocoholics, and salted caramel for the added sweet-salty kick. It has two toppings; the traditional sweetened sour cream and the gooey caramel. This is a big, tall, cheesecake and will easily feed a large party. Or, make it for your sweetie for Valentine’s Day and savor the leftovers.

Recipe for Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust and Salted Caramel:

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust and Salted Caramel Topping

A traditional Cheesecake made decadent with Chocolate Crust and Salted Caramel Topping
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
chill4 hours
Total Time5 hours 45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caramel, cheesecake, chocolate
Servings: 12 Servings


For the Crust

  • 4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs See link to recipe in "notes"
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 oz melted butter

For the Filling

  • 2 lbs cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup milk

For the Sour Cream Topping

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

For the Salted Caramel

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel plus 2 tsp more for optional garnish


For the Crust:

  • Bake the cookies following Smitten Kitchen's recipe (link in notes) or buy them. If you choose to bake them, make sure you roll out the dough as thin and evenly as possible before baking. I divided the batch in half and then rolled the dough out to 1/4 inch thick onto a silpat with plastic wrap on top (this keeps the dough from sticking to the rolling pin). The cookies can be baked the day before. Break them into pieces and store covered.
    Chocolate Crust
  • Put the cookies or cookie pieces into a food processor and pulse until they are fine crumbs. Remove the crumbs from the bowl, measure out 4 cups of crumbs, and put them back into the food processor. Add the flour and pulse to combine. Add the melted butter and pulse until the cookie crumbs have the consistency of wet sand.
  • Press about 2 cups the crust into the bottom of the 9'" springform pan and then the rest up the sides of the pan to the top edge. You should use all of  the crust mix.

For the Filling and Baking:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Put the milk in a small pot. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds inside. Put both into the pot with the milk. Heat the milk until it's hot, but not boiling. Turn off the heat and let the vanilla and milk steep for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod and if it's softened more by being in the milk, you may be able to scrape out more seeds. If so, whisk them into the milk.
    Milk with vanilla bean
  • For the filling, put the cream cheese into a mixing bowl (I use a KitchenAid stand mixer, but you can use a hand mixer if you have one). Add in the sugar and beat until combined with the cream cheese and very smooth. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, and with the mixer on, slowly beat in the eggs one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Turn it on again and add in the milk with the vanilla beans, beat until it's all combined and there are no lumps.
    Mixing the cheesecake filling
  • Pour the filling into the pan with the crust. Place the pan on a cookie sheet lined with foil (sometimes the butter in the crust melts and runs from the pan).
    Unbaked cheesecake
  • Bake for 55 min-1 hour at 325 degrees until set but still soft and jiggly in the center.

For the Sour Cream Topping:

  • While the cheesecake is cooking, mix together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla. When the cheesecake is done, remove from the oven for 10 minutes, but leave the oven on. After 10 minutes, spread the sour cream topping on the cheesecake and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove, place on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate before adding the caramel topping for at least 4 hours. The cheesecake can be made up to two days in advance.

For the Caramel Topping:

  • In a small, heavy bottomed pot, melt the sugar with water. Cook over high heat until deep amber in color. Remove from heat, and carefully whisk in the cream (it will bubble up). Whisk in the butter, and if the caramel has cooled too much to melt the butter, return to a low heat and whisk until it is all incorporated. Whisk in the 1 tsp fleur de sel.
  • Allow the caramel to cool and pour over the top of the baked and cooled cheesecake. Once the caramel is set, garnish the top with flakes of fleur de sel.
  • Note; If you are making the cheesecake in advance, I recommend you save the salt garnish until right before serving because if refrigerated, the moisture in the refrigerator will melt the salt.


This is the link to Smitten Kitchen's chocolate wafer cookie recipe that I used for the crust:
Here's an Amazon link to the type of Springform pan I use.


Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust and Salted Caramel


Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust and Salted Caramel
Not a beautiful photo, but the only one I got after it was cut. I never got a photo of a cut piece because there wasn’t any left!


  • Vivian

    Well done! I love cheesecake and generally can’t get myself to buy chocolate wafers either. I have been using JB Chang’s recipe from Flour for a while now. I will have to try it with the salted caramel.

  • Chung-Ah @ Damn Delicious

    So cheesecake is my ultimate, ULTIMATE weakness so you could imagine how I’m feeling as I’m drooling over that dripping caramel on that last photo.

    I’ve made cheesecake plenty of times, with and with water baths, and they’ve all cracked for some reason or another so I’m excited to make this caramel sauce to cover it up. Plus, caramel on top of anything is a plus in my book.

    I absolutely cannot wait to give this a try. I will let you know how this turns out!

      • Sherry

        I have found over the years that three things are helpful to combat cracking (cannot quite figure out if one is more important than the other so I will share all three things!) 1. All ingredients at room temperature. 2. Tap spring form pan on your counter top(with cheesecake ingredients just poured in) until all the bubble emerge. 3. When done baking, turn off oven door, let cool for at least 4 hours!

  • bestellalera

    This cheescake looks AMAZING! Cannot wait to try it. I have one question, I don’t need to bake the crust mix first before add the filling?

  • Whitney

    I love this recipe and plan to make it for a dinner party tomorrow but I do have a question. Using the Smitten Kitchen recipe for the chocolate base sounds perfect but why don’t you just press the unbaked mixture into the pan and bake it that way? The original recipe already has butter and flour in there for binding. I usually just press the SK base into the springform pan and the results are good except – I do find it difficult to press it evenly. Tried different ways to press down so not sure if it is my technique or ?? What is the reasoning for baking the cookies, crumbling and adding more flour and butter?

    • formerchef

      I did it that way because in other recipes I have used cookie crumbs and added the butter and flour so I followed the same logic. I think is has to do mostly with the texture of the crust. If you press the unbaked cookie dough into the pan and bake it that way, it seems possible to get a very hard crust (much like the cookie itself). If you grind up the baked cookie (and add the butter and flour) you get a softer, more tender crust. I would be afraid the baked cookie dough crust might break when I tried to cut it. But if you’ve done it with success, then great! No reason you can’t do it that way too. 🙂

      • Whitney

        Thanks for your information – I’ve got the cheesecake in the fridge and I did learn a few things along the way. I tried pressing the raw mixture up the sides of the springform [love that look on your finished cheesecake] and put it in the freezer to set before baking. Previously, I’ve used Thomas Keller’s recipe for his homemade Oreo cookies which is similar to SK and I’ve only pressed it into the bottom and up the sides a bit, baked and it’s always worked just fine. The crust tends to be a bit harder but with a cheesecake it works for me and I’ve perfected pressing down with a chef’s knife to get a clean snap. Anyway, even with chilling the pan the sides still dropped in spots. Thought about cleaning it up but decided to leave it and I baked some cookies with leftover dough and I’m going to crush those and press into the bare spots for presentation. I eat all sorts of rough dough batter and had to taste this batter – yummy – the finished cheesecake should be pretty tasty. Great blog found you through Gawker so will have to follow you.

        • Whitney

          The cheesecake was a big hit and the flavours were so good. I will definitely make this again and I am going to try your method for comparison as well as I think the finished product looks like perfection. The crust on my cheesecake was harder and I need to try your method now. Suspect this cheesecake will become a regular in my repertoire. Added fresh raspberries around edge and it looked pretty as well as complimented the caramel. Oh and I meant to say raw dough not rough ;o)

  • Karen Harris

    I’m very frugal like you and have thought about buying those chocolate wafers to use in recipes before, and never could bring myself to do it. Thanks so much for the link to make them myself. Your version of Abby’s recipe looks absolutely delicious.

  • Elise Walsh

    YOMYOMYOM. This looks amazingly delicious. This is perfection for my best friends upcoming birthday, and my poor college butt can probably afford the products. Thanks for digging that crust recipe up! Pure choco-heaven.

  • Jennifer

    I too prefer to bake my own cakes. It is amazing how cheap it is to make one. It can prove very satisfying once I mastered a recipe. This is an amazing and delicious recipe by the way. I hope I get it right the first try. Thank you for sharing.

  • Martha33

    These kind of recipe “Vanilla bean cheesecake with chocolate crust and salted caramel” is truly delicious kind to prepare these “Valentines Day”.

  • Jennifer Sarah

    Lately I’ve been buying tubs of Trader Joes (mini) Crispy, Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies, throwing them into a food processor with nuts (slivered almonds, walnuts, pecans, or macadamia nuts; whatever complements the flavor) and voila I have a perfect crust! It’s so convenient, but the farthest I will go in baking short cuts. That’s the only variation I used with this recipe. Mine is in the oven now so here’s hoping it’s as awesome as yours looks!

  • Joyce

    I made this yesterday for my husband’s birthday. The entire family loved it. Thank you so much. One comment, though, for the chocolate crumbs, I think 4 cups of crumbs was too much. Thanks again.

    • formerchef

      Thanks Joyce! I found I needed 4 cups to get the crust all the way up to the top edge of the springform pan, but if you didn’t, then next time you can save more of the cookies to eat later. 🙂

  • Jody Hulber

    I love cheesecake, I love chocolate, I love caramel (and I LOVE saving $$!) This is a gorgeous cheesecake! Thanks for sharing…I am going to make this for a special occasion! #baketogether

  • Felipe

    I have a question regarding the topping.
    I tried the recipe yesterday and i was confused about returning the cheesecake back into the oven for 10 minutes with the topping. The recipe says: 1 cup sour cream, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, but i´m not sure if the sour cream is the same available in my country. What we have here will turn into melted butter if heated, in fact, it happens right after pouring the topping on the cheesecake while it´s hot. I´ve been looking for a more accurate translation for sour cream and i´ve read that sour cream is available here in brazil as yogurt, but i´m not sure if that can be heated as well…
    So the actual question is… how does the topping taste like? Is it suposed to be sour such as yogurt, or bland like cream?

      • Felipe

        I found a recipe for creme fraiche, because it´s also not available for sale where i live, but thank you! The cheesecake (despite the substitutions i had to make) tastes amazing!

    • Hananh

      For future reference, I used Sour Cream the first time I made this and Greek Yogurt the 2nd time. They tasted the same and the Greek Yogurt had much less fat.

  • Julia

    Homemade is almost always cheaper and better. Props to making the chocolate wafers yourself!
    We’re our own toughest critic and I know you think the last picture isn’t great, but I think it’s AMAZING! It’s making me want to grab a spoon and scoop up the caramel dripping down the side! MMMM!

  • Nikki Burns

    Thanks for the recipe! Your cheesecake is absolutely gorgeous!

    I can’t do dairy or gluten (sigh), so I made this bad boy today using all dairy free and gluten free ingredients. It turned out beautifully, but was a lot “fluffier” than a normal cheesecake. Everyone that we had over for dinner raved about it and said it was much better than normal cheesecake. I added homemade raspberry preserves to the of mine instead of caramel (bc of dairy) and it was fantastic. Unfortunately, it ended up being really expensive to make a gf/df version (almost $40 with the cost of all the ingredients)- but it was definitely worth it.

    I’m going to post my version of your recipe onto my blog soon!

    Thanks SOOOO much for sharing 🙂

  • Haley

    I am making this and it is in the 55 minute 325 oven as I type. Thank you for this recipe. 🙂 Will let you know how it turns out.

  • Amy

    I have recently made this recipe, my first attempt at ever making cheesecake. EVERYONE loved this!!. I’ve also made your lemon tart with blueberries several times too, which turned out fantastic as well. Your recipes/instructions are so easy to follow, and it actually turns out just like your pictures. Please keep posting more recipes (especially desserts)! I will be trying many more in the future! Thank you!!

  • Marcy

    This looks delicious!!! I have made plenty of cheesecakes with chocolate crusts and have used chocolate Teddy Grahams. They’re more sturdy and hold up better than a Nabisco Chocolate Grahams. Just a suggestion.

      • Jodi

        If you put in a water bath, do you think it needs extra time baking? I put in a water bath and have already baked it an extra 10 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Put back in with sour cream topping for 10 minutes and it still was quite wobbly. Just put it back in for an additional 10 minutes.

    • formerchef

      Thanks for linking to my site. I hope you enjoyed the cheesecake! I would have left a comment on your site, but there’s no way to do so without logging in to some external account first (google, typepad, etc).

  • Christie

    Great recipe. Followed it to a tee. Didn’t need all of the cookie crumbs, but other than that it was so easy to make. Will be sharing it at work tomorrow!

  • Carlo

    I’m planning to make this cheesecake next week and I wanted to know what vanilla bean did you use?
    I was thinking of using Bourbon Vanilla Beans.
    I also come from the Philippines so I’m somewhat unfamiliar with fleur de sel. I wanted to know if Pangasinan salt would be an okay substitute. Anyway, I’ll post again once I start on gathering the right ingredients 🙂
    Your cheesecake looks delicious by the way and I’ve always wanted to make homemade caramel so thanks for the recipe!

    • formerchef

      Carlo- I think any kind of fresh vanilla bean will work just fine. I wasn’t familiar with Pangasinan salt so I googled it and it looks like it should work fine. You just don’t want to use regular iodized salt. It’s too fine and would make the caramel too salty.

  • SF

    This looks amazing! I’d like to cut down on the sugar though because I’m making it for a pre-diabetic friend. I’m skipping the toppings. Could I cut the sugar completely out of the chocolate wafer recipe?

    • formerchef

      Honestly, I don’t know if the consistency would be right if you cut all the sugar out of the chocolate wafer recipe. Maybe you could find some diabetic chocolate wafer cookies and use those instead?

  • Meredith

    I love the idea of using Smitten’s chocolate wafer recipe, and feel dumb for not thinking of that when she posted it. BUT, in place of the (crazy expensive!) Nabisco wafers, I’ve always used Chocolate Teddy Grahams, and find they’re way cheaper, just fine, and a box has enough for the kids each to have a few while I use the rest for the cake.


    After all these photos and recipe I am planning to try this cheesecake.
    It is look yummy , thank you for this recipe.
    I am from Turkey. With my best wishes, PIRIL.

  • tessa

    This is such a beautiful dessert! Today/tonight I made this. I was unable to find the wafer so I just made the graham craker crust. The only problem I had is the caramel…*this is the point you are going to start laughing* I wasn’t thinking and used granulated sugar ( I know!) it wasn’t going amber so I tried it again…and finally it came to me that I need to use BROWN SUGAR! (laugh now) after the 3rd time with the correct sugar it came out very runny…never getting thick?? SO for a fourth time I tried it again and it worked…only because I placed it back on the stove to cook…after all ingredients were mixed well. What did I do wrong…as you can tell I don’t make caramel very much. I hope it doesn’t harden like a rock once it goes in the fridge….*sighs* help…suggestions?

    • formerchef

      Tessa- Actually you are supposed to use white sugar. I’ve never tried to make caramel with brown sugar, so I have no idea what will happen. “Brown sugar” is basically white sugar mixed with molasses. With the white sugar, you need to be patient. It will melt first, go clear, and then, if you keep cooking it, it will start to color and then get darker (this may take 5 minutes or more). That part happens very fast and I’ve burned it more than once, so be careful!

      • Pat

        I made this cheesecake last night, and also had problems with the caramel sauce. I made it three times (burned the first one) and the second and third effort produced a very runny sauce. Any ideas what went wrong? The rest of it was delicious.

  • Dana

    This looks amazing! However, after a horrifyingly bad first experience making a cheesecake years ago that ended up burning, I always tend to use a water bath when I make mine now (which sucks, since it seems to take 3 times as long to cook). I noticed that you don’t opt to do that with this recipe. Is there any kind of secret to not turning your delicious cheesecake into a smoking, vaguely cheesecake-flavored brick?

    • formerchef

      Hi Dana-

      No, nothing in particular. If it only happened once, maybe it was just a fluke? I’ve had good results both ways, so if you’re more comfortable cooking it in a water bath, you can continue doing that too.

  • Jessica

    I am having trouble making the carmel topping :/ is it suppose to be brown sugar? or white sugar? because mine is not turning the amber color

  • Stella

    Hi, I found this recipe via Pinterest. I tried it today. Mine isn’t as pretty as yours but it’s absolutely delicious. I’ll be making it again for sure. Thanks.

  • Suzanne

    I have made this cheesecake several times over the last few months. It is a HUGE HIT!! I think people just invite me to their parties in the hopes that I’ll make this (because this is what they always request). I make the homemade crust and do everything exactly by the recipe and it always turns out phenomenal!!

  • Kelly

    So this is a dumb question but I just to make sure. When you say “cream” as one of the ingredients in the caramel sauce, do you mean heavy cream or whipping cream? I’m sorry, I haven’t been baking very long and what I do bake uses the same basic ingredients! lol not used to using creams. 🙂 Also do you think there is another kinda of salt I could use? The fleur de sel is so expensive! I’m planning on making this for Thanksgiving! Soo excited!

    • formerchef

      Heavy cream just has a little more fat than whipping cream. In this case, either one will work just fine. As for the salt, you absolutely cannot use table salt. Trust me on this. It won’t taste right. You might be able to get away with Kosher salt in the caramel, but for the the garnish, you really need the lighter, flakier sea salt.

  • Rhonda

    Just made this tonight. Outstanding! The two things I can add…
    You only need about 3 cups of crumbs for the crust and;
    When making the caramel sauce it can burn super fast. I had to toss the first batch. The second batch cooked a little weird and the moisture pretty much disappeared leaving dried looking sugar but eventually it melted and turned into caramel. Just be careful. Pull it off when the color is similar to the color in the picture….and if the sugar seems to “seize” when you add the cream, it will dissolve if you keep it over a medium heat. So awesome! I wish I could send a picture but I am not sure how?

  • sheri

    This looks so beautiful! I’m going to make this for Thanksgiving, I always make some kind of cheesecake so my family expects something wonderful every time! haha
    I’m wondering about putting the carmel sauce on, you do that after taking the cheesecake outta the form pan? or before?
    I’m worried about the chocolate crust staying put, do you have any tips on that or is it easier then it looks?
    I’ve always turned off the oven and left the cake in until the oven cools, is it ok to do that with the sour cream topping on it?
    sorry for so many questions..I want it to be as lovely as yours 😉

    • formerchef

      I put the caramel on before taking the cake out of the form. As for the crust, it’s really not that hard. I don’t know what to tell you about leaving the cheesecake in the oven to cool. I don’t do that, and I’d be concerned that the residual heat would cause it to become over baked.

  • Kelly

    Ok, I was panicking. I just tried to make the caramel and when I (very carefully) added the heavy whipping cream it turned into a ball of gooey sugar! So I just reheated it and it all melted together. I saw Rhonda’s post when i got on here so now I’m not too worried but just asking. My caramel is kinda runny now. Will it get thicker? Anyway, I’m sure I will figure it out, just panicking right now! lol Can’t wait to taste it!

  • sheri

    the cake came out perfect! looks wonderful, however I’m on my third try to make a batch of carmel sauce, mine won’t turns to crystals before it gets dark enough, no idea what I’m doing wrong but I’ll be out of cream after my last attempt..I watched a video on making the sauce but it said to use 1/4 cup of water…I tried that and it came out too runny so I’ll try your directions again and hope for the best

  • sandy

    I totally missed adding the sour cream part and returning to the oven. Now that the cake has set in the refridgerater all night, I think I should just skip it and move ahead to the caramel. Advice?

  • Kelly

    An update on my cheesecake! It all worked out fine! After panicking for a few minutes I decided to cook the caramel a little bit more, about 5-10 more minutes then let it cool and it turned out great!!! I did make my crust too thick on the sides, lol. Also I am wondering if I didn’t let my vanilla beans cook/steep long enough. I was so afraid it was going to be too much vanilla but it turned out just a tiny bit on the bland side. I used bourbon beans and they were a lot bigger than I thought they would be. Who knows. Other than that it was fantastic! LOVED the caramel!!!! Thanks!

  • dorothy

    What a beautiful cake. Made this for Thanksgiving and it was a hit! The only thing it took forever to make but worth it. Thanks for sharing

  • Rachel

    Am really thinking of making this salted caramel to add to a cheesecake topping. I’ve only made meringues on cheesecakes before, so my question is: do you put the caramel topping on before it goes in the fridge to cool or will it work if you put this caramel topping on a cooled cake the day after it baked? Thank you!

  • Cheryl

    I’m making this cake for my sister’s birthday I’ve never made a cheesecake “as I don’t like cheesecake”. I normally would never attempt to make this kind of cake as its quite a lot of work and I won’t be able to even enjoy it:) however this ment my sister was gonna make her own cake and that in my opinion was not acceptable. So a couple of quick questions. When should I release the spring on the pan after the 1 hour cooling period or right before I serve. I’m just a little nervous as I did not spray my pan as it did not mention it so again never baking this kind of cake I didn’t want to spray the pan as this can sometimes ruin your baking. The next question for the Carmel do I put this on after the cake is completely cooled or wait till just before serving. I’m a little nervous putting the Carmel on and then refrigerating the cake overnight as I’m not sure if that will make the caramel too hard. My sister is looking forward to this cake and to be honest the ingredients sound really good. I appreciate the feedback

    • formerchef

      Hi Cheryl-
      You can release it after the hour cooling period. It might come away a bit easier at that point when it’s not 100% cold.
      As for the caramel, you can put it on in advance, just not the sea salt garnish. The caramel should not get too hard.

  • Chrissy

    I saw this pinned on pinterest, and I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for this recipe! I have never made a cheesecake before… and I started with this one! I made this right after Thanksgiving and it was a HUGE hit. I didn’t add the carmel (we just dug in… lol). It was delicious! My husband was quite impressed. I am making it right now for Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow. I cannot wait to dig in! This is the most amazing thing in the world, and I’m so thankful that you shared it!

  • Veronica

    I pinned this recipe on Pinterest with plans to make for Christmas Eve dinner. It is now in the oven and wait to try it later tonight. I couldn’t get the salt on time but I’m sure it will still be very yummy.

  • Net

    I have been looking at this Cheese Cake for months, I don’t like baked cheese cake myself maybe because since a child, I’ve always had unbaked so I said to myself I want the challenge to see if I can make this even if i don’t like it, I know my family will love it. I MADE it and this cheese cake was not only a big hit with my family but I loved it too! I do think it’s too sweet with the home made caramel but next time I will leave that off and and use fresh fruit just to change it up some. The recipe is versatile also which is a plus as far adding flavors and changing the crust and the toppings. I love your site and can’t wait to try your other things!

  • Tonya W.

    I have had this recipe pinned for 9 months, planning to make it every time I see it. I make A LOT of cheesecakes and as I was baking my normal vanilla bean cheesecake, I wanted something different….so I pulled up your recipe. I didn’t have the ingredients to make the chocolate cookie crust so I just went with the traditional graham cracker crust, it was the caramel part of the recipe I was after anyway! O-M-G it was sinfully AMAZING!! I found chocolate cookie crumbs for us unprepared, spontaneous (or lazy) bakers online at–Giant-size-about/dp/B003A09LPW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358789989&sr=8-1&keywords=oreo+cookie+crumbs. I think I will try making them, but will probably order some just to have on hand for the next spur-of-the-moment baking urge I get!

  • Lynsey

    Made this recipe last weekend and it was delish! Turned out exactly as shown on your blog, will make again without question. Thanks

  • Inspirowane smakiem

    Looks delicious. My decision about addition to Pinterest today was the best decision of the week! (it doesn’t matter that it is tuesday.. 😉 ). I now it, when I see pictures and recipes like yours. Soooo tasty and yummy, I love it:) Greetings from Poland! 🙂

  • Kim

    Made this over the weekend for a gathering at my house – fabulous! I had a hard time with the caramel sauce at first, after I took the pot off the heat and searched for a whisk for 30 seconds and found the sugar had hardened. Won’t do that again! But we got it to melt after lots of stirring and then the caramel cooled beautifully. Everyone loved the cake!

  • Karen Harrison

    I made the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust and Salted Carmel for a Red Hat dinner held last Sunday ( I am Vice Queen of ” The Old Towne Gals” Red hat group of Cottonwood Arizona. I added my own twist to this wonderful cheesecake, by adding some ground up ( about a 1/4 Cup ) peppermint candy canes. Comments from my Red Hat Sisters was that it was simply delicious. And to me it was one of the creamiest and tasty cheesecakes that I have ever had! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  • Cori

    I made this for my moms birthday. Absolutely delicious! Rich and creamy; just right! It was my first time making cheesecake from scratch and it was very simple. I made the crust out of crushed Oreos and it worked/tasted perfect! The top did crack but I think I didn’t get the lumps out good enough. Nevertheless, it was a hit and I’ll definitely be putting it in my recipe book! Yum just doesn’t begin to describe how good this is! Thank you for sharing!

  • Cori

    I also wanted to add that I used Smuckers caramel sauce from a jar. Looked just like the picture and tasted great! Again, awesome recipe!

    • Dina C

      Hello !
      Great recipe and tastes deliciously sinful. I’ve made it a few times and I take 2 shortcuts: I use Oreo cookies and pulse them in the food processor to make my crust with the rest of your recipe ingredients AND I buy a container of salted Carmel dip (used for apple dipping) to use for the caramel topping. No harem,no foul and both these cheater steps work perfectly for me.

  • Jennafer

    I too have a question about the fleur de sel. I was not able to find this at my local store and don’t have time to order any, I am making this tomorrow. Would it be okay to use sea salt? This may be a silly question, i’m just not sure what fleur de sel is and have never baked with it.

    • formerchef

      Fleur de Sel is a type of sea salt, but it is very light, with large flakes which is what you’d want for the garnish. For the ingredients, yes, you can use sea salt, but I would not necessarily use it as the top garnish because it might not look right, or might melt too fast. It just depends on the type you have.

  • shannan

    I followed this recipe PERFECTLY. I made sure each step of the way. The thing flopped miserably and I’m left dessertless and teary for there some unspoken cheesecake common sense that could’ve prevented this? Am I the only person who is a great baker but randomly has horrible flops? 🙁

    • formerchef

      Shannan- I’m sorry it didn’t come out the way you wanted. Perhaps if you could tell me how exactly it “flopped”, I might be able to help you figure out what went wrong. BTW, I’ve had my fair share of flops too, every good cook does. Sometimes it’s technique, sometimes there is an issue with ingredients, sometimes it’s the oven calibration which could be off.

  • April

    Thank you so much for this wonderful dessert! I made this for a school function and it was a huge hit! Only thing I had a hard time with was the caramel was too runny and ran all over and off the try it was on.. But it was fantastic!! I will absolutely make this again!

  • April S.

    We love this cheesecake! Thank you so much for sharing! I have made it three times and still love it! I did change the caramel recipe for the top of it. I took a bag of caramel bits (from the baking section, 1/2 cup of cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and melted it on the stove top. Once it was cooled enough I poured that on the top of the cheesecake and let it cool completely.. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! Big hit at our house!

  • Kelsey P.

    I made this cheesecake for my brother’s 30th birthday, he absolutely loves cheesecake. To say the least, this was a HUGE hit! Thank you so much for sharing, I wanted to make something special for him and this definitely hit the nail on the head! 🙂

  • Carole

    Making this tonight for my son’s graduation party tomorrow. The cheesecake seemed to have come out perfectly! The caramel sauce I’m having problems with, however. I normally make my own caramel sauce starting with butter and sugar only (no water, I know, not the normal way), but I thought I’d try your recipe this time. I started with the cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water over high heat, however very quickly the water evaporated and it was pure sugar crystals again, sizzling on it’s way to burning. I added a bit more water, but then worried I’d put too much in, so I pulled out the candy thermometer, but was unsure how hot I should cook it to. I’ve ended up with a blonde “caramel” sauce, so not sure if your original 2 tablespoons was correct (I noticed a comment from you that you were going to correct something, so not sure if it was the amount of water or not). But now I’m thinking maybe blonde salted caramel may be the next hot thing!

  • Emily

    I made this…including the choc cookies for the crust. Holy cow it was amazing!!! My only thing was, that my Carmel topping was very syrup like in consistency so when it was cut, it made a huge mess. I’m not sure what happened there. Even so, it was fantastic

  • Christie

    So excited to try this! Its sitting in my fridge waiting for dessert tonight. I didn’t have chocolate wafers, and no time to make them, so I used 3 1/2 C graham crackers, 1/2 C ground pecans, 2 Tbsp cocoa, and 6 Tbsp flour for the crust. I also put a pan of water on the rack under the cake and it came out beautifully. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Julie

    Just made this and it was so good! Got lots of compliments. The only thing is that I made the caramel right before dinner, and it was in the fridge for maybe an hour, and it made an EGREGIOUS mess when I cut it. Next time, I will make the caramel sauce earlier (or let it cool longer before putting it on the cake?).

  • Jodi

    I made this cheesecake last year for a Christmas party and again this year for a thanksgiving party. It’s so incredibly delicious! And I love knowing I made it all from scratch, right down to the cookie crust. However, I struggle with the caramel topping every time. Once I add the cream in, a bunch of caramel clumps up around the wisk and the rest of the caramel in the pot is super runny. Do I need to add the cream more slowly? Thanks for sharing this insanely decadent, rich, and tasty dessert recipe!

    • formerchef

      I’ve had the caramel seize up before. Yes, add it slowly. Also, turn the heat down to low and keep whisking. It should melt and then combine. It will thicken as it cools, but it is usually a little runny when you cut the cake.

  • Andrew

    Hello! I’ve been thinking, is that 325 temperature farengheit or celcius? Couse i’ve never baked something in such a high temperature if it’s celcius… (May look like stupid question, but just want to make soure)

  • Tenley

    Chocolate cookie crumbs are sold all over Canada (usually next to the Graham Cracker crumbs) by Nabisco under the name Oreo Cookies, I use them for all my chocolate cookie crusts, so easy to work with as they are already crushed.

  • Marvella

    I’m making this for a Valentine dinner tomorrow evening. I can’t find vanilla beans at my grocer. Could I substitute vanilla extract?

  • Megan

    This looks delicious! I am planning on trying my hand at it for my mother in law’s birthday. I had a couple of questions though. I am going to make it the night before and then transport it to her house the next day. Would it be be better to wait to do the caramel topping until I am at her house, or can I do that here before I take it over there (about an hour and 10 min drive)? Also, can I leave the cheesecake in the spring form pan for easier transport or would you recommend taking it off as soon as it is cooled? Also, since I didn’t see it in your recipe, I am guessing you didn’t grease or flour the pan and had no problems getting it out, correct? Sorry for all the questions, I am curious by nature 😉 I can’t wait to try and make this!


    • formerchef

      I would leave it in the springform pan to transport it. If you are concerned about the caramel topping, you can make it at home and then bring it with you and pour it on top when you get there. I didn’t grease the pan because there’s so much butter in the crust. But if you are concerned, it can’t hurt.

      • Megan

        Thank you for such a prompt reply! I cannot wait to try my hand at this recipe. I also just wanted to let you know I have been browsing the rest of your blog site and I am in love. I think you are my new favorite blog to follow. Have a lovely week!

  • Gisele D

    Help! I ran across this recipe on tumblr a few months back and have been saving it for a rainy day, so to speak. I’m dying to make this but I have a few quick questions I’d like to ask regarding a few things.

    1. What is the point of the sour cream topping and what difference will it make if I don’t include it? I’m not a sour cream fan at all and I was wondering what the point of it was.

    2. In your opinion, would a different type of chocolate cookie (let’s say for example, Oreos) make a huge taste difference? Like, would it be similar enough to the wafers do you think to not be problematic?

    I would really appreciate an answer – thank you so much for putting this beauty up!

    • formerchef

      First, don’t panic! 🙂

      1.The sour cream topping is just a traditional topping for cheesecake. I think it’s used sometimes to hide cracks which may form in the top of the cake when it bakes. Plus it just adds an additional flavor/texture.

      2. If you can find oreo cookie crumbs, I think that would be fine. However, I wouldn’t just take oreos, filling and all and use them whole. It’s the filling which would be problematic.

  • Sandra

    Looking for a recipe of a cake similar to th reverse Flan chocolate cake
    But this one is made with croissants and flan mada in a bundt pan

  • Rena

    Can this be done with regular vanilla/Nilla waffers instead of chocolate? What are your suggestions? How about a praline crust? My husband isn’t too fond of chocolate, but absolutely loves cheesecake!

  • Rena

    Thank you formerchef! What a great idea! Thanks for sharing your recipe! This looks like I won’t be needing parchment paper for my cheesecakes anymore! I can’t wait to try it! Your picture of the cheesecake is still enticing!

  • Amanda Farley

    Hi, I read all all the reviews and previously thought I found a mention as to whether the butter in the caramel sauce was salted or unsalted? Now, on second glance of the notes I saved for the caramel sauce – I don’t find an answer. Would you help me please? I’m making this for my fiancé ‘s 36th Birthday today!…There may be a man with an upset stomach if he dare’s 2 pieces.

  • Gina

    This cheesecake looks divine, and I am excited to make it for my sister’s birthday this weekend. If you happen to see this message, I’m wondering-why is flour an ingredient in the crust? Usually when I do a cookie crumb crust like this, it’s crumbs and butter and maybe a bit of sugar…just curious as to what the flour does, and what would happen if I omit it?

    • formerchef

      Well, that’s a good question and one I’ve never really considered. The crust recipe is based loosely on one I’ve been making for over 20 years. I’ve never made it without the flour so I don’t know what would happen. My guess is that it’s there to help stick everything together. I can’t say for sure what would happen without it.

      • Gina

        I will follow this beautiful recipe to the tee this time, and maybe make another one day soon, to try the crust without the flour. Thanks for your quick reply!

  • Charisma

    I have made this recipe several times over the last couple of years. It’s a great recipe and I haven’t changed it at all, which is something I always do. I use chocolate gram crackers for the crust. I can never find those nilla wafers in chocolate. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I know I’ll be using it often!

  • Esther

    This cheesecake is beyond phenomenal….it was so good and the salted caramel was PERFECT!!! We had an evening out with friends last night and we finished up at our house for this decadent cheesecake and wine. Everyone loved it and said it was the best cheesecake they had ever eaten…..EVER!!! I love Pinterest and have made a lot of recipes that I have found on Pinterest; but, hands down, is the best.
    Thank you so much for this great recipe ☺

  • Graphista

    I’ve made this recipe many times before and it is wonderful every time. I feel like it can be a little time intensive and definitely needs to be made ahead. But, when I can devote the time it so VERY rewarding! The cheesecake is light, airy and has just the right amount of sweetness. I love the sour cream topping to balance the sweetness in the caramel. I converted this recipe to a mini-cupcake form and now I have so many of these little devils running around. They’re so much harder to resist when they’re so small and “harmless.” This is a terrific recipe!!

  • Baking_Beginner

    I am new to baking but I love desserts especially cheesecake.Your cheesecake looks very delicious so I am very excited to bake this one. I am trying to collect all the ingredients but since I am first timer I wanted to use lesser quantities than suggested so that I dont ruin all the stuff. I dont have cream cheese available in my locality so I will be making it at home. Is it okay to use 1 lbs cream cheese for the cheesecake ? could you please tell what all changes i need to make in the quantity of other ingrdients according to this.
    Thanks. 🙂

    • formerchef

      Hi- Since you want to use 1/2 the amount of cream cheese, my best guess is that you could cut the rest of the recipe in half, though I’ve never done it and you’d need a much smaller springform pan. Cooking time would also be reduced, though not by half and I don’t know to what.

  • baking_beginner

    I tried baking cheesecake with all the ingredients as specified but it didn’t turn out good. The filling is not creamy and is getting crumbled. Do you have any idea about the reason behind this? Or could you please suggest if anything can be done to improve it now?
    Thanks 🙂

    • formerchef

      I’m not sure, but it sounds like it might have been baked at too high of heat or for too long. Have you checked your oven temperature to make sure it’s accurate? I have an oven thermometer in mine because it’s off by about 75 degrees now. You can buy an inexpensive one that hangs on the sliding racks at Target or even the grocery store. Other than that, I don’t know, but this is the first time I’ve heard of it turning out like that.

  • baking_beginner

    I cooked at 325 degree F as mentioned which when converted is 163 approx. So I sat mine at 160 degree. Is it wrong?

    • formerchef

      No, I’m not talking about converting to celcius, I’m talking about the actual temperature of the oven inside, not what it says on the dial.
      That said, I just noticed that you were also the person who wanted to cut the size of the ingredients. What other changes did you make? Did you adjust the size of the pan and the baking time to fit a smaller batch? Did you adjust the proportion of the other ingredients in any way? Change anything else?

      • Rena

        Yes the oven temp can be diff from what you set it to be. My oven temp is 15-25 degrees higher than the setting.

        You don’t have to change from the 9″ pan for half the recipe. I’ve tried it and it was ok. Bake for about 25 mins.

        As a beginner I would recommend using a hand mixer to cream the cream cheese, add the sugar until smooth and silky. Switch go a baking spatula to stir in the milk and vanilla and one egg at a time just until blended.

      • baking_beginner

        No, I didn’t cut the size of the ingredient then. So I strictly followed your recipe. Also, I adjusted the temperature using oven dial to 160.
        Thanks for following up on my comment. 🙂

        • Rena

          Use an oven thermometer to ensure the temp in your oven is the same as what you set your dial to. Not all ovens were created equal 😛 I’ve learned through a very expensive experience.

  • Carolyn

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! My family and I have enjoyed it numerous times! I just have a quick question: what size spring pan do you use? I use a 9″ pan but it never looks quite as thick as your picture. Thank you in advance!

  • Sherry

    Thank you for THE most amazing cheesecake recipe I’ve ever made! The pictures and directions made it so easy to turn out an eye-popping dessert that impressed everyone. I did burn the caramel on the first try but on the second try – perfection! This has become my go-to recipe (the caramel still give me issues every now and then). My question is: Can it be made without the crust if I line the pan well with tin foil? I’d been having issues with gluten the past few years and gave it up 5 months ago to see what would happen. It’s like magic, happily so, but I need my vanilla bean cheesecake with caramel sauce! I know I can make it with GF crumbs but I’d like to skip that part. I’m wondering if you’ve tried this? Any advice you have would be gratefully received :o)

  • Jill

    I have this in the oven right now, the only thing I am sad about is it is for a friend and I won’t be able to eat any myself. I plan on making this again for my family soon. Just wanted to make sure it is ok to share this on my blog with a link to your page?


  • Marion

    I made this it was amazing but had to adapt to ingredients I could find in the UK so for the crust I brough some very nice cookies from my local shop (triple chocolate one) think there was 12, I have smashed them with a rolling pin.

    I also used only 1/2 cup of sugar for the cream cheese though a whole cup was excessive

    I really want to do it again and again it was delicious and super easy

  • Karen

    Hi I’m having trouble with the caramel. It doesn’t turn Amber, just crystallizes rock hard.what I am I doing wrong
    Should I use brown sugar?

  • kathy travis

    just wondering (if you are still reading these since the last one was a couple years ago) anyway, wondering if you think if I added the praline pieces you make with the fleur de sel would look or seem or even taste weird with this vanilla bean cheesecake? I love the look of the pralines and love love love the color. I am making this cheesecake tomorrow for Thanksgiving. anyway, rambling here. just a thought. So, if you do read this in the next 12 or so hours maybe I will make the candies or maybe I won’t, thinking it looks perfect the way it is. Can’t wait to try this cheesecake. Wish me luck, it’s for a big party.

    • formerchef

      Hi Kathy-

      Yes, I still read the comments! 🙂
      Regarding the Praline, how were you thinking of using it? On top, like on the chocolate cake? If so, I think that would be fine. I just wouldn’t put it in the cheesecake batter because then it would melt. Would you still do it with the caramel sauce too or instead of?

      • kathy travis

        Hi again,
        Not sure if I am going to use it. I made the cheesecake and it is lovely. Yes, I used the caramel on top (yumminess) so I was thinking of using the praline like it was on the cake, just sticking out of it in crazy spikey ways. But…I tasted it (the candies,) and yuck, I didn’t care for it. I figured if I use them for decoration no one really has to eat them and if they are anything like my hubby they may like them. Just a bit too salty for me. I am the kind of person who doesn’t even salt popcorn. But they do look cool. I guess I won’t know until I just do it. It is 1:30 am now, Thanksgiving morning, so I must get some sleep. Thank you for responding so quickly. Can’t wait to eat that cake!

        • formerchef

          Hope you enjoyed the cheesecake! As for the praline, it’s meant to be eaten in small amounts, unless you really like salty-sweet. The original recipe for it was used as a mix in to salted caramel ice cream. I just thought it looked pretty, like glass, which is why I used it on the cake, mostly for decoration. 🙂

  • April

    Oh my goodness!! This cheesecake is the best! I used oreo cookies as the crust, Ijust took out the cream filling and then crushed the cookies.. IT IS SO GOOD!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

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