Other people’s recipes: Judy Rosenberg’s Caramel-Topped Pecan Cheesecake

As I mentioned on Monday, I went through a number of cheesecake recipes before settling on “Caramel-Topped Pecan Cheesecake” from Judy Rosenberg’s The Rosie’s Bakery All-Butter, Cream-Filled, Sugar-Packed Baking Book (Workman, 2011; p. 87). One or two of these I might revisit the next time I’m looking for a cheesecake recipe. This recipe is fairly simple, with no involved procedures or unusual ingredients, and only one special piece of equipment: a nine-inch (24 cm) springform pan. The procedure goes in three phases: first the crumb crust, then the cheesecake filling, and finally (on the day of service) a quick caramel sauce. Here’s how it went:

Mise en place for crumb crust
This recipe calls for a simple graham-cracker crumb crust: a few tablespoons of sugar, three ounces of melted butter, and 1½ cups of graham-cracker crumbs. To get the crumbs (ground up in the food processor) it takes about one package of crackers — sorry, but I didn’t weigh them. These are all just stirred together and pressed into the springform pan, then baked off at 375°F (190°C) for about ten minutes.

Crumb crust, before baking
I actually used the smooth side of my meat pounder to press the crumb crust flat. After cooking, it’s taken on a bit of color.

Mise en place for cheesecake
For the next phase, in addition to the crust, the recipe also requires chopped, toasted pecans. While the recipe only calls for a cup (and doesn’t specify the size of the chopped pieces), I chopped and toasted the whole nine-ounce package — I can always find something else to do with chopped nuts. Other ingredients here are 1½ lb of cream cheese, 1¼ cup “lightly packed” brown sugar (sorry, once again failed to weigh), three eggs, some vanilla, and two tablespoons of flour. Assembly proceeds by the creaming method: first the cream cheese is creamed with the brown sugar, then the eggs and vanilla are added and beaten until smooth, and finally the dry ingredients are added. This filling is then poured into the springform pan and baked at a fairly low 300°F (150°C) over a roasting pan full of hot water. (This last was one of the reasons I chose this recipe, as some of the other recipes I looked at required a full-blown bain marie, which is a bit more work.)

Fully baked (overbaked?) cheesecake
The cheesecake bakes for a fairly long time, about 105 minutes, and then cools in the pan, on a cooling rack, until completely cooled. It looks like I could have used a slightly moister environment, or perhaps I should have taken the pie (for cheesecake is actually a pie) out a few minutes sooner — but the caramel sauce topping will conceal these cracks anyway. Once the pie is completely cool, it must be refrigerated overnight. (This is actually important: it needs to be thoroughly chilled before the hot caramel sauce is poured on top.)

Mise en place for caramel topping
The caramel sauce is also quite simple: a half-cup of brown sugar, a quarter-cup of heavy cream, and ¾ tsp of melted butter are cooked together in a small saucepan over medium heat. The sauce is cooled slightly and then poured over the top of the cheesecake.

Finished cheesecake with topping
The caramel sauce thickens fairly quickly after hitting the cold cheesecake, and since the filling sinks and forms a well in the center of the pie, it’s necessary to tilt and rotate the pan to coat the entire top surface. At this point, it should be kept at room temperature for another two hours before serving.

Cheesecake portioned
I divided the cheesecake into 16 portions, although (of course) some people felt the need to cut them even smaller. The best way to cut cheesecake is to get a long knife, a towel, and a tall glass full of hot water; for each slice, rinse the knife in the hot water and wipe it clean with the towel before cutting.

Single slice of cheesecake
In this single slice you can see how nicely the chopped pecans are distributed throughout the filling. Everyone who tried it (and some of my mother’s family are notoriously fussy eaters) loved it, or at least claimed to. I was pretty pleased with it myself, and the whole pie was gone within an hour of service.

Nutrition

You could probably try making this with Neufchâtel in place of the cream cheese for a lower-fat option, but at 400 calories overall it’s really not that bad as cheesecakes go.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/16 pie
Servings per recipe: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 402 Calories from fat 252
% Daily Value
Total Fat 28g 43%
 Saturated Fat 14g 68%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 98mg 33%
Sodium 203mg 8%
Potassium 63mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 12%
 Dietary fiber 1g 4%
 Sugars 28g
Proteins 5g 11%
Vitamin A 12%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 6%
Iron 4%
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