Triple chocolate caramel cheesecake
With this cake I learned two lessons. 1) No matter the level or intensity of prior preparation, something can always go awry, and 2) Point number 1) applies particularly when it comes to appearances. I have concluded that chasing picture perfection involves a LOT more tribulation. So this would have been even greater if my cake tin (8″ diameter, take note later) had been an extra 1-2 inches taller. As it is – as you will see – my triple-chocolate layered cheesecake lost some of the effect as the layers weren’t very thick.
To assuage the noisy aesthete in me, I made a separate dessert with the leftover mixture. This helped.
Anyways – the triple chocolate caramel cheesecake. Gratefully adapted from a wonderous-looking recipe I found here. Not much tweaking was done, apart from the base, decorations, and the layer of caramel.
For the base:
- 130 g chocolate chip cookies / chocolate hob nobs (I always think chocolate biscuits make a cheesecake base EVEN better. Cheesecakes without good bases are an aberration and should be banned)
- 70 g butter, melted
For the cheesecake fillings:
- About 1-2 tbsp caramel (dulche de leche) – you’re gonna have to buy a tin I imagine. I’ve frozen mine, if freezing works you’ll hear about it here in some incarnation. Till then, go make some banoffee pie
- 380 g cream cheese (no, don’t buy the skinny stuff. It won’t save you now. Have you seen the other ingredients?)
- 250 ml double / whipping cream, whipped into peaks
- 1 tbsp gelatine, sprinkled onto 60mL hot water
- 125 ml milk
- 60g each of dark, milk, white chocolate
- 120g castor sugar
- 2 tsp cocoa
- extra chocolate for shavings and decoration
First of all make the base. Put the biscuits into a food processor and blend, then add the melted butter and pulse again until the mixture starts to come together. Remove and press firmly into the base of a tall 8″ cake tin, with a removable base (previously greased and lined with parchment) [hint: I always scale up the amounts for the base. 1) you can’t buy a 130 g pack of biscuits, and I have no will power, 2) everyone loves the biscuit base and 3) a thick base makes the slice of cheesecake stay together better once cut]. Note you definitely need a big tin if you listened to the hint. Refrigerate for 10-20 mins to firm up a bit, then spread the caramel to make a thinnish layer over the base. Leave again in the fridge to finish firming up.
Meanwhile, make the three fillings. Sprinkle the gelatine into a bowl filled with the just-boiled water. Leave to melt, and mix a bit, to get a clearish liquid. You can leave this to stand in another pan of hot water till needed to stop it setting. Next, use a hand whisk to process the cream cheese till smooth, then add the sugar and mix again. Add the 125 ml milk and repeat. Next, carefully melt the three flavour chocolates in three separate bowls (biggish sized as you’re going to be adding other ingredients to them after). I use the microwave, but be warned, burnt chocolate is weird-tasting, lumpy-looking, and to my knowledge, unsalvageable. See below:
So check the chocolate regularly, or if you’re unsure, heat over a pan of boiling water. Next, divide the cream cheese evenly into each of the three bowls of chocolate [it is at this point you may realise your bowl isn’t going to be big enough. Oh the pain of excessive washing up.] and mix well. Also sieve 2 tsp of cocoa to the dark choc bowl, to make it extra chocolately (I did all this last mixing manually, by the way). Add a tablespoon (15 ml) of the melted gelatine to each bowl, mix, then finally add 1/3 of the whipped cream to each and fold in till all an even colour.
Now the assembly. Spread the white chocolate layer over the base, and level out. Chill in the freezer for 10 mins, or until a bit firm (doesn’t have to be super firm, just enough to be able to spread the second layer.) Add the milk chocolate layer and repeat. I find the easiest way is to put small blobs dotted around evenly, and then spread gently with a knife. If you’re too violent, the white mixture will begin to mix in too. Pop it back in the freezer again. Finally, add the dark chocolate layer and level. If your tin is high enough, it’ll all fit. If not, you get to make a mini dessert like I did.
Chill in the fridge for 3 hrs, or overnight. To serve, remove gently from the tin, and slide onto a serving plate. Make chocolate curls to decorate the top by taking some cold chocolate, and running a potato peeler down one edge. Vary the pressure and temperature of the chocolate to get different sized curls. The small edge will give you shavings; if you’re careful enough and use the flat side of the chocolate (top side) and it’s just slightly warm you can make longer chocolate scrolls. You can also decorate with chocolate shapes, though as can be seen in the photos I haven’t quite mastered that yet (probably also proving in the process having the right equipment for piping can also help. Or that wielding a sandwich bag filled with melted chocolate and a hole poked in the corner requires more skill than previously thought).
Final thoughts: tasted great, but provoked grumpiness a bit by having too short a cake tin. The caramel was a good addition, on reflection. Having extra filling mixture fortuitously lead to the discovery that this recipe also makes very pretty individual-sized desserts. Made in ramekins and lifted out gently when set (perhaps if fully lined with parchment / cling film) it would make quite an impressive dinner party dessert.