Cheesecake is a staple at the Market, but it’s different nearly every day because we vary the toppings, crusts, and flavorings. Cookie crusts are particularly good with cheesecakes. If you prefer you cheesecake plain, just serve it without the topping.
Makes one 9-inch cheesecake; serves 10-12
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (pulse in a food processor several times)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Turtle Cheesecake Topping
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
For the crust
1. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan, including the bottom, with a large square of aluminum foil. Set aside.
2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, and butter in a bowl and mix until the crumbs and pecans are moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom and about 1 inch up the inside of the prepared pan. Place in the refrigerator to chill until ready to use.
For the filling
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and place in a bowl. Blend with an electric mixer until soft and creamy.
3. Add the sugar and flour slowly until they are completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl several times during this process. Add the eggs and the egg yolk one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
4. Combine the cream with the vanilla in a small bowl and slowly add to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until thoroughly blended.
5. Pour the filling into the prepared pan. Place the cheesecake in a large roasting pan or baking dish. Add enough water to come 1 inch up the sides of the pan to make a water bath.
6. Place the roasting pan with the cheesecake in the water bath in the oven and bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the cheesecake sets and is firm about three-fourths of the way into the center; the center will be slightly loose.
7. Remove the cheesecake form the oven; remove the cheesecake from the water bath. Place the cheesecake on a baking rack to cool completely. Leave in the springform pan and place in the refrigerator to chill several hours or overnight. Add the topping. Refrigerate the cheesecake until ready to serve.
For the Topping
1. Place the sugar in a very large, dry skillet, over medium heat. (Note: Be sure to use a large skillet; otherwise the hot, syrupy mixture may boil over when you add the cream.
2. Without stirring, let the mixture melt and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until it turns amber in color. (Note: If the mixture begins to turn dark around the edges, do not stir, but shake or rotate the pan so the mixture cooks evenly. Stirring will cause the mixture to be lumpy.)
3. Slowly and carefully stir in the cream and stir to mix. Simmer 5 to 6 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the lumps dissolve. Stir in the vanilla and pecans; remove from the heat. Pour the caramel mixture from the skillet into a bowl and cool completely to room temperature. (Note: Do not refrigerate the topping until after you’ve put it on the cheesecake; it will be too hard to spread.)
4. Spread a thin layer of the caramel on top of the chilled cheesecake. Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the caramel topping.
Variation: Pumpkin Cheesecake
Prepare the cheesecake as the recipe directs through step 4. Combine ½ cup canned pumpkin, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon ground allspice in a small bowl and mix until thoroughly blended. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the filling and stir until well blended. Proceed as recipe directs at step 5.