Halloween Candy Cheesecake. Willowbird baking Challenge #5, the final challenge. Cheesecake. Or my version of what to do with your
kids leftover Halloween candy
Cheesecake is one of those things that puts you into one of two camps, the LOVE cheesecake camp or HATE cheesecake camp. I wouldn’t say I hate it, I just don’t love it. Hate is such a strong word, so lets call it the I don’t hate cheesecake camp but I don’t love it and you wont ever see me eat it camp. Not my first choice for a dessert at all. I have never even made one, I mean why would I if I don’t like it? I have had bites of traditional cheesecakes throughout my life at parties or weddings or any event that had a dessert table and I got to the desserts after a lot of other people (I know strange right me being the all about desserts girl usually eats them first) and the only thing left was cheesecake minus one or two slices. I guess I’m not the only one that isn’t a huge fan.
My other cheesecake experiences have been at The Cheesecake Factory. I know many cheesecake purists say that they don’t serve REAL cheesecake. They have some pretty outrageous combinations and multiple layers, like a brownie base a cookie dough layer, ooey gooey chocolate and caramel sauces, giant swirls of the thickest whipped cream ever, that they don’t even taste like cheesecake. More like a cake/cookie/brownie thing with a thin later of cheesecake filling. Still though with those I only take a bite or two. Mostly just of the whipped cream. Seriously how do they get it so thick??
So when I saw that Julie aka Willowbird Baking’s final challenge was cheesecake I groaned a little. Okay, maybe a lot. Cheesecake? One of the few desserts I don’t like and have never ever made? This was going to be a HUGE challenge for me. I was trying to figure out what flavor combos to make all week. I even consulted baking friends on twitter asking for recipes, advice, moral support etc. I had several ideas with their help, but then this week was Halloween!! So I had a ton of time spent on getting my kids to their school party, finding myself a costume, taking them out trick or treating that I was quickly running out of time. HAAALLLPPP!! What to make???
So being the
mean smart mom that I am and never feed my kids candy; I had the “Switch Witch” visit and take some of their candy in exchange for a toy ( brand new fairy wings for both girls), I took the rest and made a cheesecake with it. I figured why not go all out and overly decadent and rich and ooey and gooey Cheesecake Factory style. So I consulted the interwebs for recipes, ideas. I came up with a combo from many sites for a chocolate wafer cookie crust, a chocolate ganache and caramel layers on the base (note: caramel doesn’t work on the base I will show you soon why not) a decadent cheesecake filling with chopped up leftover Halloween candy bars, topped it all with ganache and caramel glazes, sweetened whipped cream and more chopped up candy bars. The thing weighed like 20lbs when it was all said and done. I also think each slice adds 20lbs to ones hips and thighs after eating it.
Seriously decadent. Not bad for my first cheesecake huh? Weellllll I sort of had a major mishap/fail….
Clean up on aisle 3. And 4. As soon as I pulled the sides of the springform pan off a small leak was happening. My first thought was the foil around the pan wasn’t tight enough and water got in. Then I realized that there was a hole in the side and the caramel sauce was leaking out. Okay, pouring out. I was PANICKED. About to cry. I was texting my friend Christy ( from the fabulous blog My Invisible Crown) asking her cheeescake advice all along the way, and she told me not to cry or else she would start to cry. Love the food blog community, we are all so supportive of one another. So I had a paper towel tucked in by the leak and kept having to change it out. I felt like I was back working in trauma and couldn’t stop a bleed, except this time I was losing precious caramel sauce and the side of my cheesecake was crumbling. Lesson learned – no caramel at bottom of cheesecake. This is a pic when the leak wasn’t as bad. It was totally under the pan and when I was carrying the cake back and forth from my garage photo booth set up to my kitchen it was sliding on my cake stand and I was afraid it was going to fly off and I would really start to cry then if that had happened. Luckily it didn’t.
Oh! Another note: I made WAY too thick of a ganache layer. I didn’t realize it until I poured in my cheesecake filling and I had way too much, in fact I even had to scoop some out because I was afraid it was going to bake up and over and spill everywhere. Again a sign of a newbie cheesecake baker I didn’t realize it wasn’t going to rise like a cake but just firm up and set. Still though I took out some filling to be on the safe side. It was already a disaster waiting to happen as it was. So next time way less ganache.
It was so late last night when I finally got to taste it. WOW. Decadent, rich, but really good. I surprised myself that I actually made a halfway decent cheesecake. My husband tried stealing a bite of my slice and I told him to get his own, I earned my slice. I should have shared because it pretty much put me into a carb coma and I was trying not to fall asleep while editing photos. He’s taking the rest to work today. His co-workers are loving being my taste testers. Just hope they don’t take naps at work after eating a slice of this cheesecake.
- 1½ packages of chocolate wafer cookies (Famous Wafers) 12 oz
- 8 tbs butter
- 8 oz bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped
- 8 onz heavy cream
- Caramel Sauce:
- 1 c sugar
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter cut into cubes
- ½ c heavy cream
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- Cheesecake filling:
- 3-8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 c sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- ¾ c heavy cream, room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanila extract
- 2-3 cups leftover chocolate Halloween candy, I used mini’s, cut into pieces
- Caramel sauce
- Sweetened whipped cream
- Mini candy bars
- For the Crust: In a food processor, grind the wafer cookies into fine crumbs, add in the butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Gently press the crumbs into a 9″ springform pan, using a flat bottomed glass, twisting as you press so they don’t stick, and press up the sides,about 3″ up or to the top edge of the pan. Make sure you use even pressure so its the same thickness all around. Freeze until ready to fill with ganache.
- For the ganache: Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a stainless bowl. Heat the cream over medium heat until simmering. Pour over the chocolate and let sit 2 min. Slowly stir the mixture until it is all combined and thickened. Let sit 5 min. Pour 1 cup of the ganache over the bottom of the crust, tilting so it covers the bottom evenly. Chill for 30 min.
- For the caramel sauce: While the ganache is chilling prepare the caramel sauce. In a high sided sauce pan, at least 4qt, pour in the sugar and place over medium-high heat. Watch closely for the sugar to start to melt, stirring occasionally. Once all the sugar has melted and has turned a dark amber color add in the butter and whisk to combine. The mixture will bubble up and may splatter so wear an oven mitt while whisking to prevent burns. Once the butter is combined, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the heavy cream, salt and vanilla. This will cause the mixture to bubble up rapidly again, so be careful and whisk until the caramel is smooth. Let cool in pan a few minutes before transferring to a glass jar. Let sit at room temp until ready to use. Once it has firmed up pour a thin layer over the ganache layer in the pan and chill again until ready to fill with the cheesecake filling.
- For the Cheesecake: Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Set out foil to wrap the springform pan in and have a larger pan ready to set the springform pan in for a water bath In a stand mixer or large bowl using a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, and mix until well incorporated before adding the next. Add in the cream and vanilla and mix on low until combined. Fold in the chopped candy bars. Pour mixture slowly into the spingform pan and even out the top, it will be flush with the crust at the top edge of the pan.
- Wrap the sides of the springform pan in two layers of foil, making sure there is a double layer and its tight to the pan and no water can get in and set into the larger pan. Add in 2-3 cups of water so the water reaches up 1″ the sides of the springform pan.
- Bake in the 325 deg oven for 65-80 min or until the edges are set and the middle of the cheesecake is still jiggly. Remove from oven and take pan out of water bath. Let cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator, 4-5 hours or overnight until ready to decorate.
- To decorate the cheesecake: carefully un-mold from the spring form pan and set the cake on a platter still on the springform pan base.
- If the ganache has set up too firm to drizzle over the top, set the bowl over a pan of warm water, but not touching the water, and stir slowly until it is easier to stir. The caramel also might have firmed up and can be heated in the microwave 10 seconds at a time until thin enough to drizzle
- Drizzle the caramel and ganache over the top of the cheesecake, pipe on whipped cream and decorate with candy halves. Serve immediately or chill again until ready to serve. Enjoy!