Another day of Christmas (the seventh to be exact), another cheesecake. I know, for someone who thinks she doesn’t like cheesecakes, she sure shares a helluva lot of recipes for them. This salted caramel mocha cheesecake is my take on my favorite Starbucks holiday drink. And it probably has the same number of calories too.
What is in a salted caramel mocha cheesecake?
The name pretty much tells you everything you need to know about what flavors go into this. But, here is a rundown…
- Chocolate base. So the recipe here calls for a cookie crust, but I will tell you I often use the brownie crust that I use in the chocolate mint cheesecake. I honestly don’t know which I like better. And before you roll your eyes at the amount of work involved here…YES YOU CAN USE BOXED MIX. I do almost every time (unless I am feeling really fancy). But keep in mind, you will only use about 1/3 of the prepared batter for one cheesecake. Make brownie bites with the rest. Further honestly, after doing both, I would probably recommend the brownie crust over the cookie crust BECAUSE….
- Salted caramel sauce. Drizzle that sh-t over teh crust (which is why I think ultimately the brownie crust is better, the cookie crust DID get soggy with the caramel drizzle), and THEN all over the top of the finished cheesecake.
- Espresso – cocoa cheesecake. This is a baked cheesecake, so it is rich and thick (keep reading for tips on making the perfect cheesecake). A simple cheesecake base with a bit of strong coffee (I make coffee then add instant espresso powder to it), and some cocoa powder. The cheesecake itself is not terribly sweet because the salted caramel and fudge drizzles are super sweet and you need some balance.
- Hot fudge sauce. I feel like this is my secret ingredient in so many desserts. It looks pretty, is super shiny and is a little sweeter than ganache.
How to make the perfect cheesecake.
So for most of my life making cheesecake scared me. It always seemed like such a process and a lot of ingredients and I HATE WATER BATHS.
But over the years I have developed a sort of obsessiveness over getting them just right. And by just right I mean no cracks, no soggy crust from the water bath, no big ole brown spots on top.
It took me until this year and a great tip from one of my very best friends to get a cheesecake that is truly what I think is perfect.
Tip 1 – Make sure all ingredients are room temperature
This is a big one that took me a while to realize was important. I mean, the cream cheese being room temperature is kind of a given, so what I am really getting at is the eggs. Do not use cold eggs, you will end up with little bits of unmixed cream cheese in your cheesecake because the cold eggs will make the cheesecake cod and not blend in with everything else.
For this chocolate mint cheesecake, you will use melted chocolate which will help with the incorporation of all the ingredients because it will be warm.
Tip 2 – make sure your crust is totally cooled.
Most crusts, like this one, require a little pre bake, and if you don’t cool it the bottom of the cheesecake will be drier.
Tip 3 – Bake at a lower temperature for longer.
This will help with the cracks that so many cheesecakes get. No matter what the recipe calls for, I always bake cheesecakes at 325.
Tip 4 – Use a steam tray NOT a water bath.
No matter how much foil I wrapped around my springform pan water seeped in and gave my cheesecakes a soggy crust. I was telling this to one of my bffs one day and she gave me this tip. She said she uses a steam tray on the rack below the cheesecake instead of placing the whole cake in a water bath. She said this still gave the cheesecake the light and moist texture everyone loves – and she was absolutely right. This tip was a game changer for me and if you are already a cheesecake baker, I think you should try this out and see if it doesn’t make a difference in the texture of your crust.
Last tip – after 50 minutes of cooking, turn off the oven, crack open the door a bit and let the cheesecake cool inside the oven for at least one hour.
This prevents a major sunken center, and cracks, and couldn’t be easier.
These are tips for all cheesecake making, not just this chocolate mint cheesecake. I hope this helps you to make a perfect cheesecake, no matter what kind.
Final pro tips for making a salted caramel cheesecake.
These aren’t really pro tips this time. They are more tips to keep you from stopping reading this because it sounds way too complicated for an at-home baker.
I don’t know about you, but I have never found myself too cool or too good for a few shortcuts. I take them all the time. And while I am sharing full on recipes for like four things just to make one dessert, that doesn’t mean that I do it this way every time – or even most of the time.
- Use a boxed brownie mix. For the love of god, if you ever use a boxed brownie mix for something use it here. It is a crust for god sake, a base to drive creamy cheesecake into your mouth!
- Use jarred salted caramel and fudge. Nowadays there are so many quality options for both of these at stores that you really don’t need to make your own. And by quality options, I mean the kind that are made with all natural ingredients, the exact things you’d be I make caramel and fudge for ice cream in like triple batches all the time, so I almost always have homemade on hand. But if I don’t, i buy it! Making everything from scratch doesn’t make you a certified best ever baker at home…sometimes it just makes you a tired and cranky baker. NOT WORTH IT. Go buy some sauce. And if you can’t find salted caramel sauce just get regular caramel sauce – you are gonna sprinkle some salt on the top of the cheesecake anyhow 🙂
Salted caramel cheesecake
For the caramel sauce (use store bought if you want)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 6 Tablespoons salted butter room temperature cut up into 6 pieces
- 1/2 cup heavy cream at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the fudge sauce (again, use store bought if you want)
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chopped or use 1/2 cup of bitter or semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the crust
- 2 cups of chocolate cookie crumbs I used oreos
- 3 tablespoons of melted butter
- Alternatively use brownie mix or favorite brownie recipe - approximately 1/3 of the prepared batter
For the cheesecake
- 3 packages of cream cheese softened
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons of super strong coffee at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the caramel sauce
Combine the sugar and hot water in a heavy saucepan, and cook over high heat until the sugar has dissolved. This takes about a minute. Keep cooking, swirling the pan a bit but DO NOT EVER STIR, EVER! If you stir the sugar it will crystallize and NEVER EVER CARAMELIZE. Just swirl the sugar/water around in the pan until sugar starts caramelize and color. The color you want is a deep amber color. It will take about 10 minutes on a medium high flame.
When you achieve this color, turn the flame to medium-low and whisk in the butter CAREFULLY! It will bubble up. Continue to whisk until all the butter is incorporated. Cook without stirring for one minute.
Turn your flame to low and whisk in your cream - also - CAREFULLY! It was bubble up and steam like crazy. Add the rum in last and stir to combine. Pour into a metal or glass bowl or into mason jars and let cook completely.
For the fudge sauce
Combine the butter, cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, cocoa, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low, stirring, for 3 to 5 more minutes after everything has melted, then remove from heat and stir in the chocolate. Stir in vanilla.
For the cookie base
Stir together the cookie crumbs and the melted butter. Press down and up the sides of a 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Bake in oven about 8 minutes or until you can smell it a bit. Take it out and cool completely (I put it outside in winter to super cool quick - if it is dry out).
While the crust is baking, boil a pot of water. When the crust comes out, place a large metal baking dish or a catering half pan, on the bottom rack in the oven, and make sure you have a rack for the cheesecake in the middle of the oven. Take your boiling water and CAREFULLY pour it into the dish on the bottom rack of the oven and close the oven right away.
For the cheesecake
With a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add your coffee and cocoa powder and continue to mix well to incorporate. Add your eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. miz in your vanilla.
Drizzle about 1/4 cup of caramel sauce over the base crust. Pour your cheesecake batter on top. Bake the cheesecake in the oven on the middle rack, WITH the water bath on the bottom for about 45-50 minutes, keeping the oven closed as much as possible (resist the urge to peek). Turn off the oven, and crack it open. Let cheesecake cool down in oven for at least an hour, or up to three hours. Finish cooling at room temperature, and then refrigerate until serving. Drizzle with your about 1/4 cup of the remaining caramel and hot fudge sauce when cold and serve extra at the table.