I think we can all agree that it's hard to know what to get dads on gift giving holidays. And no matter how much my dad actually loves getting socks, I still feel like a schmuck every fathers' day, birthday and Christmas as he opens his gift and feigns surprise. "Just what I wanted! Socks! I was afraid you were going to break from tradition and get me something else this year..."
Which is why it's nice be able to hand him an additional package, one that I can identify with desiring. Dad's favorite candy is the delicious chocolate turtle.
photo from Demet
Chocolate covered-caramel smothered-toasted pecans are dad's idea of a good time. And if we're lucky, he'll gift us with one chocolate turtle each.
photo from Beware the Cheese Photography
We can only assume they're called turtles because of the vaguely turtle shape... although if I ever see turtles that look like this in my local pond, I'm going to have serious questions for our waste management center.
While I'm of the opinion that nuts ruin many a perfectly good dessert, I think this is a pretty winning combination. It's an incredibly easy way to dress up a dessert, too, just add chocolate, caramel and pecans. Plain old vanilla ice cream becomes a turtle sundae! Chocolate cake gets a turtle makeover! Turtle brownies! And the reason we're here today: Turtle Cheesecake.
I think a lot of people are intimidated by cheesecakes because of the long bake time, the longer cool and chill time and the very real risk of crackage. However, a cheesecake is pretty non-fussy when compared to cakes and tarts. After the crust, it's just mix-and-go! The only secrets are planning ahead and a water bath. I now use a water bath every time and cheesecake fissures are a thing of the past. And the beauty of the turtle cheesecake is that even if there are cracks, they're hidden under the turtle topping.
Turtle Cheesecake, recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan and Emeril Lagasse
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
First, prepare the crust:
2-3 cups finely crushed oreos (depending on how thick you like your crust) (a food processor makes this so easy!)
6-10 T melted butter (don't over-do the butter when it comes to an oreo crust. Add it until it just sticks together when you pinch the crumbs, before it looks all moist.)
Combine the butter and the oreo crumbs, then press the mixture to the sides and bottom of a springform pan. Bake the crust for 10-15 minutes. Let it cool while you make the cheesecake filling.
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or (preferably) roughly chopped dark chocolate
Place a pot of water on the stove to boil for the water bath. Get out a baking or roasting pan large enough to fit the springform pan.
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the sugar and mix a minute more (the smoother this batter is, the better). Scrape down the sides and add the vanilla and eggs, blending well between each addition. Finally, add the salt and heavy or sour cream and mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust and smooth the top. It's a good idea to put aluminum foil around the bottom and sides of the springform pan to make sure that no water leaks in and makes your crust soggy. Put the cheesecake into the baking pan and pour the hot water around it so that it comes half way up the sides of the cheesecake pan.
Bake the cheesecake at 325 for about an hour and a half, until set. You can tell its set because if you shake it, the whole surface moves only slightly, opposed to the middle still jiggling. Turn off the oven and let it cool with the door propped open, still in its water bath, for about an hour. After the hour, place the cheesecake on a rack to come to room temperature. (When I'm feeling lazy but have some time, I'll take the cheesecake out of the oven after baking and let it come to room temp in the water bath.)
Chill the cheesecake in the fridge for at least four hours, preferably over-night.
Before serving, make the topping.
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups pecan halves or chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup caramel sauce*
Pour the cream over the chocolate and microwave for about 45 seconds. Let sit for a minute and then whisk until smooth. Pour it over the cheesecake. Let set in the fridge for 10 minutes. Finally, sprinkle the top with the pecans and drizzle the caramel sauce over the whole thing.
*You can used a jarred caramel sauce, but of course I recommend making your own. Here's a great recipe.
You can find this and more treats over at sweets for a saturday.