I was recently invited to a friend’s birthday party, and the birthday lady requested to hang out with friends, play games, and eat cheese. Sounds like a perfect celebration to me. All the guests were asked to bring some dish to share that had cheese. Of course I wanted to bake something, which logically led to cheesecake. But then I heard that another party-goer was bringing baked goods. What? Excuse me? Does he have a baking-themed blog that he painstakingly updates every few months? I don’t think so. Clearly, I needed to up the ante. No more plain classic cheesecake. Enter… brownie caramel cheesecake. Perfect. (You can see the original recipe I found here.)
Betsy came over to help me out with this one, and we started off by preheating the oven to 350 F and greasing my 9″ springform pan. In a medium bowl, we mixed together 1 package brownie mix, 1 egg, and 1 tablespoon cold water. We spread that into the pan and baked it for 25 minutes.
While it baked, we worked on the caramel. We unwrapped a whole bag of individual caramels. This is where I deviated from the recipe a bit. It called for a 5-oz can of evaporated milk, which I didn’t have. So instead I mixed in about 5 tablespoons butter and a few spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk to thin it up a bit. This worked out pretty well, except it was a bit tough, so I recommend testing out the evaporated milk route and see if that works better. Once everything was all melted together, we set aside about 1/3 cup of the caramel mixture in a bowl and got to work on the cheesecake part.
In a large bowl, we beat 2 (8 oz) packages softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1 teaspoon of almond extract until smooth. I’ll be honest, the only reason I used almond is because I ran out of vanilla. We then added 2 eggs, one at a time, beating just slightly between each one. The key to a good cheesecake, as Betsy says, is to not beat it too much, which allows air to get into the batter, causing cracks when it bakes.
This was just in time to pull the brownie base out of the oven. I poured the caramel mixture into the pan, keeping that small amount I set aside for later. Then I poured the cream cheese mixture overtop the caramel, spreading evenly to the edges. We popped it into the oven.
The recipe says to bake it for 40 minutes. We baked it probably a total of 50 because the center looked like it wasn’t finishing. The problem was, the crust over-baked. Next time, I’ll bake the brownie crust for probably half the time. Anyway, the results were still amazing.
After we pulled the cheesecake out and popped the ring off the springform pan, we set out to top it with caramel and chocolate. Betsy poured the caramel in, but it was really thick, so we ended up with large globs instead of a pretty stream. No matter. I spread the caramel into wide zig-zap stripes. (If you use the evaporated milk instead of the butter like we did, your caramel may not be thick enough for this, but you should be able to pull off a nice drizzle.)
Next I melted 1/4 cup chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until it was perfectly smooth. Then I spooned chocolate on top of the cake in between the caramel zags. We made a few drips of chocolate — whoops! So to cover them up, we just decided to drip chocolate polka dots all over the caramel. Perfect. By the time we were done, the entire top of the cake was covered in either caramel or chocolate, and it looked simply amazing.
And I must say, later that night, after the birthday lady blew out the candles, it tasted amazing. It was very rich, so everyone just needed a small slice, which really helped make such a small cake go a long way. And as I mentioned above, the crust was a little tough, but that’s easily remedied next time. Definitely a recipe I’ll be coming back to.