Needs and Wants. It is often very easy to distinguish between the two. A Need is something you require to sustain your life on this planet. A Want is something you wished you could have to make your life easier or more fun. A Need is necessary for survival whereas a Want is not, and almost always something that can be termed “nice to have”.
However, with something like the Caramel Macadamia Brittle Cheesecake, how does one draw the line between a Need and a Want?
I know, right?
To me, that LINE is simply non-existent. It ceased to exist when I first tried a slice of this heavenly cheesecake in one of the restaurants in Penang. So a couple of weeks ago, I decided that I needed to have a slice and I wanted one…so I needed to find myself the recipe and time to bake it 🙂
It was my maiden attempt at baking this sinfully delicious dessert, and it was also my first attempt at making caramel! However, because I constantly am at the beck and call of my kids, my baking adventure had to be broken into several “sessions”.
Session 1: Prepare biscuit crumbs for cheesecake crust. Temporarily interrupted by lighting guy who came to fix broken wall lamp. Continued with biscuit crust and left in fridge to set while I took kids to a playdate nearby.
Session 2: Same day, at night, when kids were all asleep. Prepared cheesecake proper and baked, then left to cool on kitchen island overnight.
Session 3: Next day, morning. Toasted macadamia nuts to make the brittle and got started on caramel. First batch of caramel was a disaster because the color wasn’t “amber” enough. I made a second batch, which tasted like “cookie dough”, according to my daughter.
The final product yielded a very rich, decadent cheesecake that would crumble in your mouth with every bite. The sweetness of the caramel married the crunchiness of the macadamia brittle in an almost perfect manner. And the cheesecake was just really really good.
My daughter said, “Mommy, that looks like the one we had at Ben’s!”
That simply just made my day 🙂
Caramel Macadamia Brittle Cheesecake
(recipe from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice)
1lb 5oz/600g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons/120g caster or superfine sugar
2/3 vanilla pod (I used 1 tsp vanilla prima essence)
4 organic or free range eggs
1/4 cup/60ml sour cream (I used yogurt as a replacement)
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (I skipped this)
6oz/160g dry biscuits (I used digestive biscuits)
3 tablespoons/40g unsalted butter, melted
1 cup/150g salted macadamia nuts
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon/90g caster or superfine sugar
5 tablespoons/65g unsalted butter
2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon/160g caster or superfine sugar
1/2 cup/100ml whipping or heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 285 degrees F/140 degrees C.
- Grease an 8-inch springform pan and line the sides and bottom with parchment paper.
- Toast the nuts on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes until they are golden. Remove and set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the cookies/graham crackers and pulse until you have fine, even crumbs. Add the melted butter and mix well. Pat into bottom of the prepared cake tin and slightly up the sides. (I crushed them in a ziplock bag instead)
- Chill in the fridge.
- To a large mixing bowl add the softened cream cheese and sugar, beat with a mixer until creamy.
- Split the vanilla pod in half length-ways and scrape out the seeds into the bowl.
- Add the eggs and sour cream gradually and beat until smooth and creamy. Alternatively, you can use a hand whisk and beat everything by hand.
- Pour mixture into the crust. Place on a baking sheet and bake about 60 minutes or until set in middle, a skewer in center should come out with some wet crumbs attached.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Remove the sides and transfer the cake onto a plate, you can leave the bottom on if you like. Chill the cake for at least two hours.
- Line a baking tray with parchment. Place the sugar in a large saucepan with a very thick bottom.
- Make sure the sugar is in a very thin layer not more than 0.1?/3mm, use a large pan.
- Heat the sugar over medium-low heat until it turns a golden brown color. Do not stir at any time. If you see little bits of undissolved sugar that’s O.K.
- Working quickly but carefully, add the nuts and stir with a wooden spoon until they are evenly coated.
- Pour the coated nuts onto the lined baking tray and allow to cool.
- When cooled, break or cut the brittle into small bits, leaving it chunky. (Very hard to resist popping a piece or two into the mouth at this point!)
- Stir the butter and sugar in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, constantly over medium heat.
- Keep stirring until it becomes a dark and smooth caramel.
- Once the desired color is reached, carefully add the cream, (it will bubble up and steam) stirring vigorously all the time.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Once the cake has chilled and before serving, dust the sides of the cake with the icing sugar. Top cake with caramel sauce letting it drizzle down the sides. Scatter the macadamia nut brittle all over the top of the cake.