Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust and Salted Caramel

by formerchef on February 6, 2012

Post image for 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 (example, I’ll spend more for 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 a 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 silpats on two sheet pans and baked them that way. It was much easier and I simply broke the sheets of baked cookie into pieces to grind into crumbs for the crust. Oh, and the best part? I think the cost on 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 large party. Or, make it for your sweetie for Valentine’s Day and savor the leftovers.

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust and Salted Caramel Topping
Printable recipe in PDF for Vanilla Bean Cheesecake 

Crust:
1 recipe chocolate wafers from smitten kitchen
(Or 2-3 boxes Nabisco chocolate wafers. I’m not exactly sure how many boxes you need. Start with 2 and work up from there. A commenter left a link saying you can also order chocolate cookie crumbs from Amazon. I haven’t tried them, so I can’t vouch for them. If anyone does, let me know.)

4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
1/2 cup flour
4 oz melted butter

(instructions on making the crust below)

Filling:

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

Topping:

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

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)

 

Bake the cookies following Smitten Kitchen’s recipe 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.

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.

Chocolate Crust

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.

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

Unbaked cheesecake

 

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).

Bake for 55 min-1 hour at 325 degrees until set but still soft and jiggly in the center.

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  min, 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 serving for at least 4 hours. The cheesecake can be made up to two days in advance.

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. 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.

 

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!

 

Abby Dodge, cookbook author and fellow food blogger does a monthly baking blog carnival called #baketogether. While I didn’t know about it when I made this cheesecake, coincidentally this month’s recipe is a Vanilla Bean Cheesecake so make sure you check out all the other versions of vanilla bean cheesecake on this post, as well as get some great tips on baking cheesecakes (I particularly liked her tip for pressing the crust into the pan using plastic wrap and a flat bottomed cup).

 

{ 149 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Danielle February 6, 2012 at 8:27 am

Yeah, those wafer cookies are so expensive! Thanks for the suggestion of making my own. This cheesecake looks amazing!

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2 MVOR February 6, 2012 at 9:46 am

You are a genius! I’m sending this to my friend Greg in hope that he’ll make it for our next dinner party. Thanks!

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3 Vivian February 6, 2012 at 10:49 am

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.
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4 formerchef February 7, 2012 at 6:15 am

Vivian, I don’t think you’ll regret the salted caramel. Give it a try!
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5 Barbara | Creative Culinary February 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Two things. Glad you joined us…and Great Minds? Mine is all chocolate, cheese, salted caramel and a sour cream layer! So I can seriously imagine how good this is. :)
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6 formerchef February 7, 2012 at 6:02 am

Oh yes, great minds…your’s is beautiful too.

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7 angela@spinachtiger February 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Magnificent. Love everything about this. Saving the money on the cookies to the big fat cheese cake oozing caramel. On the recipe, you state 2 tbs of something. What ingredient is that?
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8 formerchef February 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Yikes! Thanks. It’s water. Will fix.

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9 Chung-Ah @ Damn Delicious February 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm

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!
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10 formerchef February 7, 2012 at 5:59 am

I think the cracking has to do with cooking at too high of a heat or too fast.

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11 Hamid February 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm

This is such a beauty …:),

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12 Janis February 7, 2012 at 8:15 am

Oh. My. god. This looks incredible. My daughter will love this recipe! Your cheesecake is beautiful.
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13 bestellalera February 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm

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?

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14 formerchef February 7, 2012 at 10:15 pm

No, you don’t need to bake the crust before the filling.

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15 bestellalera February 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm

thank you!

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16 Janwa February 8, 2012 at 3:13 am

Wow this just looks absolutely delicious! Great take on the cheesecake recipe!

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17 Jenn @LeftoverQueen February 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm

This looks so so so so GOOD!

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18 Linda February 10, 2012 at 3:59 am

This cheesecake looks amazing! Your pics are beautiful and you have inspired me to give this one a try.

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19 Whitney February 10, 2012 at 10:11 am

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?

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20 formerchef February 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm

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. :-)

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21 Whitney February 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm

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.

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22 Whitney February 12, 2012 at 8:54 am

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)

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23 formerchef February 12, 2012 at 9:12 am

Awesome! I’m so glad you liked it. If you try it again, let me know what you think of the crust.

24 Karen Harris February 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm

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.
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25 Elise Walsh February 11, 2012 at 6:22 pm

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.

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26 abby dodge February 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Awesome version of this month’s recipe! Wishing I had this in my fridge right now.. and so does my husband!

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27 Jennifer February 13, 2012 at 10:38 am

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.

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28 Martha33 February 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm

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

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29 Jennifer Sarah February 14, 2012 at 12:47 am

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!

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30 Georgie February 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm

WOW! That’s a whole lot of goodness!

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31 Joyce February 20, 2012 at 9:22 am

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.
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32 formerchef February 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

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. :-)

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33 Jody Hulber February 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm

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

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34 Andreea February 29, 2012 at 11:14 am

this looks beautiful. I am sure it was delicious ;-) cheesecake is on my list of cakes I want to make, but I haven’t picked a flavor combination yet.

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35 Felipe February 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm

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?

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36 formerchef February 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm

No, sour cream isn’t really the same as yogurt. Are you familiar with French creme fraiche? It’s more like that.

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37 Felipe March 1, 2012 at 8:28 am

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!

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38 Hananh March 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm

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.

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39 Sara March 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I’ve been looking for a new cake recipe and landed on your blog! This looks delicious, can’t wait to try this!
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40 Julia March 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm

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!

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41 Nikki Burns April 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm

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 :)

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42 formerchef April 3, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Glad it could inspire you and that it came out great!

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43 Nikki Burns April 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm
44 Sorina April 4, 2012 at 1:11 am

Look’s divine!!
Urgently I must made this beautiful!!!!! :))
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45 Haley April 7, 2012 at 10:24 am

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.

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46 Haley April 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Ahhhhh-maaay-zing! Was a huge Easter hit. Many thanks!

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47 Hijabi April 21, 2012 at 4:07 am

Your pictures are gorgeous. I love the cheesecake slice pic the best :)

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48 Amy April 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm

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!!

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49 Marcy April 30, 2012 at 3:28 pm

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.

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50 Chanty April 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Hi, would you put it in a water bath?

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51 formerchef April 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm

You can if you’d like, but I didn’t find it necessary to put it in a water bath.

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52 Jodi February 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm

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.

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53 formerchef February 27, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I don’t know how much extra time you might need in a water bath. Hope it came out to your liking.

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54 Angela May 2, 2012 at 1:53 am

Wow the cake is so delicious thanks for sharing this recipe. Love it.

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55 Christina Morley May 15, 2012 at 5:46 am

I wanted to let you know that I shared two links to your site from my Mother’s Day blog post, one was directly to this recipe, which I made for Mother’s Day. Those members in my family who love cheesecake, really loved this one. Thank you for sharing it! You can find the blog post here on my photography blog at http://1camera1mom.blogspot.com/2012/05/mothers-day-card-4.html
Have a great day!
Tina
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56 formerchef May 15, 2012 at 6:32 am

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).

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57 Christie May 30, 2012 at 9:12 pm

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!

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58 formerchef May 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Thanks for letting me know Christie!

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59 Carlo May 31, 2012 at 9:35 am

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!

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60 formerchef May 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm

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.

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61 Homemade Vanilla June 8, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Running to the store for ingredients. I run a website that shows people how to make vanilla extract with step by step direction and photos. I can’t wait to try this.

I make cheesecakes all the time and this looks amazing! Thanks.

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62 SF June 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

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?

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63 formerchef June 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm

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?

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64 Meredith June 18, 2012 at 6:32 am

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.

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65 PIRIL June 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm

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.

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66 tessa July 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm

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?

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67 formerchef July 5, 2012 at 9:59 pm

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!

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68 Pat December 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm

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.

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69 Dana July 18, 2012 at 3:45 am

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?

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70 formerchef July 18, 2012 at 6:07 am

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.

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71 Jessica July 31, 2012 at 7:26 pm

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

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72 Jessica July 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm

The water evaporated before it ever turned to the amber color so i started again. I added the cream when the sugar and water started to bubble and then added the butter and cooked it until it got thick… 15 minutes later it got thick and turned brown because i added a tsp of vanilla.

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73 formerchef July 31, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Hi Jessica- Yes, the water will evaporate and the sugar should start to melt. You really should not add the cream until the sugar gets to the caramel color otherwise you won’t get the flavor you want, you’ll just get reduced cream. Check out the caramel recipe in this post as the process is similar; http://www.formerchef.com/2009/12/07/chocolate-cake-with-salted-caramel-and-fleur-de-sel-praline/

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74 formerchef July 31, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Hi Jessica- It’s supposed to be white sugar. I’ve changed the recipe to reflect that. If you are patient, the white sugar will melt and eventually turn amber.

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75 Stella August 31, 2012 at 5:09 am

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.

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76 Sherri September 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Has anyone tried to make mini’s from this recipe?

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77 Suzanne November 9, 2012 at 10:01 am

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!!

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78 Kelly November 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

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!

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79 formerchef November 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm

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.

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80 Kelly November 13, 2012 at 10:18 am

Thank you!!! Can NOT wait to make it!

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81 Rhonda November 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm

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?
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82 formerchef November 11, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Hi Rhonda! So glad you liked it and thanks for sharing your tips. If you’d like to share a photo, you can post one on the Former Chef Facebook page. I’d love to see it! http://www.facebook.com/formerchef

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83 Rhonda November 12, 2012 at 9:31 am

Done!

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84 sheri November 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm

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 ;)

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85 formerchef November 12, 2012 at 6:05 pm

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.

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86 sheri November 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Thanks! do you spray or butter the pan first before putting the crust on it?

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87 formerchef November 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm

You can, I didn’t. There’s butter in the crust and my pan is non-stick.

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88 Kelly November 21, 2012 at 8:33 am

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!
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89 formerchef November 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm

It should get thicker when it cools.

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90 sheri November 21, 2012 at 8:34 pm

the cake came out perfect! looks wonderful, however I’m on my third try to make a batch of carmel sauce, mine won’t darken..it 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

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91 formerchef November 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm

The sugar should melt eventually, even if it crystallizes first, before you add the cream.

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92 jillianne November 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Hi, how do i bake/how long? if i wanted a smaller cheesecake?

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93 sandy November 22, 2012 at 4:48 am

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?

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94 formerchef November 22, 2012 at 6:29 am

Yes, just move ahead to the caramel. It will be fine without the sour cream.

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95 Kelly November 22, 2012 at 8:26 pm

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!
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96 dorothy November 23, 2012 at 3:47 am

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

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97 Rachel November 30, 2012 at 12:27 am

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!

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98 formerchef November 30, 2012 at 7:17 am

Yes, you can put the caramel on top of a cooled cake, just make sure the caramel is not too hot when you do it.

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99 Cheryl December 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm

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

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100 formerchef December 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm

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.

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101 katie dupont December 16, 2012 at 10:33 am

My caramel sauce crystallized what went wrong?

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102 formerchef December 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

I’m not exactly sure because I don’t know what you did or did not do. But I googled “caramel sauce crystallized” and found a lot of answers. This one might help: http://www.food52.com/hotline/16577-why-did-the-sugar-crystallize-in-my-caramel-sauce-i-assume-i-cooked-it-too-long

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103 Sandra December 23, 2012 at 12:13 am

I plan on making this for Christmas, so I was wondering if it makes a difference if youuse salted or unsalted butter??

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104 formerchef December 23, 2012 at 7:48 am

For the crust, unsalted butter would probably be better.

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105 Sandra December 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I was also wondering what I could substitute the fleur de sel with.

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106 formerchef December 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Really, nothing, if you’re talking about the garnish. Regular table salt will melt and taste horrible. You can use kosher salt in the caramel if you have to, but don’t use it for garnish either.

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107 Sandra December 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Thank you so much for the help!

108 Andrew December 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Hey, i want to ask almost the same question, can i replace fleur de sel with himalayan salt?

109 Chrissy December 23, 2012 at 10:29 am

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!

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110 formerchef December 23, 2012 at 10:33 am

Chrissy- Thank you so much! It’s comments like yours which give me the encouragement to keep blogging.

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111 Veronica December 24, 2012 at 8:41 am

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.

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112 Net December 25, 2012 at 9:37 pm

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!

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113 Tonya W. January 21, 2013 at 9:58 am

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 http://www.amazon.com/Chocolate-Cookie-Crumbs–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!

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114 Lynsey January 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm

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

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115 Inspirowane smakiem February 12, 2013 at 11:09 am

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! :)
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116 Kim February 25, 2013 at 5:33 am

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!

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117 Karen Harrison March 1, 2013 at 7:25 pm

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!

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118 Cori March 14, 2013 at 10:21 pm

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!

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119 Cori March 14, 2013 at 10:29 pm

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!

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120 Jennafer March 28, 2013 at 8:02 am

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.

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121 formerchef March 28, 2013 at 8:37 am

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.

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122 shannan March 30, 2013 at 9:55 pm

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 Easter.is 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? :(

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123 formerchef March 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm

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.

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124 April April 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm

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!

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125 April S. May 3, 2013 at 7:33 am

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!

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126 Kelsey P. May 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm

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! :)

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127 Carole June 23, 2013 at 1:19 am

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!

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128 Emily August 15, 2013 at 9:39 am

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

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129 Christie August 24, 2013 at 11:27 am

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!

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130 Julie September 24, 2013 at 9:01 pm

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?).

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131 formerchef September 25, 2013 at 5:59 am

It should drip a little (it’s never going to get hard) but not be too runny. Maybe it needed to be cooked a minute longer or have a little more time in the refrigerator.

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132 foodinspires September 28, 2013 at 6:03 am

Awesome site, awesome goodness – thanks for the recipe and for responding to all the comments that needed them. Great advice, keep it up!
Cheers

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133 Jodi November 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

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!

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134 formerchef November 22, 2013 at 7:08 pm

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.

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135 Andrew December 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm

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)

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136 formerchef December 20, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Fahrenheit.

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137 Tenley January 11, 2014 at 10:20 am

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.

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138 Marvella February 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

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

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139 formerchef February 13, 2014 at 11:56 am

Yes. Use 2 teaspoons of extract.

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140 Megan February 17, 2014 at 11:24 am

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!

Megan

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141 formerchef February 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm

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.

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142 Megan February 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

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!

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143 Gisele D April 26, 2014 at 12:56 am

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!

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144 formerchef April 26, 2014 at 7:04 am

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.

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145 Cori April 26, 2014 at 7:27 am

I crushed a bag of Oreos in the blender for my crust. It was delicious!

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146 Andrew May 8, 2014 at 8:26 am

Can i replace fleur de sel with himalayan salt or what ever, that is similar to that?

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147 formerchef May 8, 2014 at 6:55 pm

As long as the salt has a light and flaky texture, yes.

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148 Sandra August 24, 2014 at 7:32 am

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
Thanks

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149 formerchef December 20, 2013 at 3:13 pm

If it’s a flakes salt, then yes.

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