My lovely friend Heavenly Housewife over at the Donuts to Delirium blog set out a challenge for her readers last month. Anybody who wanted to, could join her in making one of Ottolenghi’s famous desserts, the caramel macadamia cheesecake. For those not familiar with Ottolenghi, he’s a superstar chef based in London.
I jumped at the idea of a cheesecake challenge because first off, cheesecakes are dead easy to make. The other reasons were:
- There were macadamia nuts, my favourite
- There was caramel sauce, my husband’s favourite
- It was a cheesecake, everyone’s favourite.
- It looked absolutely, indulgently, delicious.
So, some of my fellow bloggers (I will list them at the end) and I went on our merry way to create this cheesecake masterpiece. This is my contribution to Heavenly Housewife’s Ottolenghi cheesecake challenge. I did not make any changes to the recipe except the fact that I added US measurements for my American friends and I used a 9″ tin for my cheesecake instead of an 8″. There was no difference in the taste or quality of the end product.
The list of ingredients and methods may seem a little involved and long winded, but they are really easy actually, and it really only takes an hour and half of actual hands on work. Not too bad for a very decadent dessert. If you like cheesecake and especially, ones with nuts and caramel, you must try this one. It was an instant hit at home. The children particularly enjoyed the macadamia brittle that topped the cake. I enjoyed the contrast of the nutty brittle and the creamy cake doused in the sweet, slightly smoky, caramel sauce. One thing I noticed is the cheesecake isn’t overly sweet like you might think. Most of the sweetness come from the caramel sauce but the sauce itself has a pleasant bitterness from the caramelised sugar and so, all the elements work in perfect harmony.
Here is the recipe and serves 8-10
1lb 5oz/600g Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup+2 teaspoons/120g caster or superfine sugar
2/3 vanilla pod
4 organic or free range eggs
1/4 cup/60ml soured cream
icing sugar, for dusting
6oz/160g dry biscuits (digestives or graham crackers)
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 double (heavy) cream
Preheat the oven to 285 deg F/140 deg C. Grease a 8″/20cm springform cake tin 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 from the oven and put them aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the biscuits and whiz until you have even crumbs ( can also put the biscuits in a Ziploc and bash with a rolling pin.) Add the melted butter and mix into a sandy mixture. Pat the biscuit mixture on to the bottom of the prepared cake tin to make an even biscuit crust. Put aside.
In a bowl, add the softened cream cheese and sugar and using a mixer, beat till creamy. Split the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds into the bowl. Add the beaten eggs and soured cream gradually and beat until smooth and creamy. Alternatively, you can use a hand whisk and beat everything by hand. Pour the creamy mixture onto the prepared biscuit crust. Place on a baking sheet and into the centre of the oven. Bake for 60 minutes or until set. Check using a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake; should come out with some wet crumbs attached. Put aside to cool to room temperature. After it has cooled, remove the sides of the tin and transfer the cake onto a plate. If removing the bottom tin is proving to be a challenge, you can leave it intact and serve from the tin. 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 gently until it turns a golden brown colour. Do not stir at any time. There may be little bits of undissolved sugar and that’s alright. Carefully, add the toasted nuts and stir with a wooden spoon until they are evenly coated. Pour the coated nuts onto the lined baking tray and let cool. When the nuts have cooled, break the brittle into small bits, leave some in large pieces.
Put the butter and sugar into a heavy bottom saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat. Keep stirring the mixture until it becomes a dark and smooth caramel. Once the desired colour is reached, carefully add the cream, stirring vigorously all the time. Remove from the 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 the cake with the caramel sauce allowing the sauce to drizzle down the sides. Then finish off by scattering the macadamia nut brittle all over the top of the cake. Sit back and enjoy a piece.
The cake will keep in the fridge for three days…if there is any left.
I hope you attempt to make the cheesecake because it is really delicious. Please take a moment to visit my other blogger friends who also took the challenge with me:
- Amanda at Glamorous Glutton
- Sue at Suvelle Cuisine
- Liz at Tip Top Shape
- Tammy at Il Dolce Bacio
- Reenie at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
- Vanessa at Sweet Artichoke
- Stevie at Weird Combinations
- Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker
If you decide to do the cheesecake challenge, let me know how it turned out.
As always thank you for reading and a big thanks to Heavenly Housewife for challenging us!