Monday was Y's 33rd birthday! He had the day off, so we celebrated by having a picnic under the cherry blossoms at a huge park near us. Unfortunately his allergies were out of control. We played for a bit, had lunch, played a bit more, watched some break dancers and went home. After dinner, we busted out the cake. I made the chocolate cheesecake for him, as it is his favorite. I have made this cake numerous times at this point, but I tweak something nearly every time - and this time was no exception.
The last time I made this, I had mentioned that I wanted to try swirling caramel into the actual cheesecake batter for a bit more of a caramel taste. So, I started out by making the caramel. I am so confused as to when the perfect time to stop burning the sugar is and this time, I don't think I let it get brown enough before taking it off the heat. As a result, it wasn't a very perfect caramel, but I figured it would work nonetheless.
Also, since this was his birthday cake, I decided that I wanted it to look particularly pretty. I wrapped the cake pan in two layers of tin foil to prepare it for a water bath. Then I crushed up a bunch of Oreos and put them in the bottom.
I mixed up the batter, only using 2/3rds of the recipe. Then I added in a healthy dose of chopped pecans. I don't really like the way the cheesecake looks with pecans on top. I think it looks kind of messy, so instead I loaded them up in the batter itself.
Once the pecans were mixed in, I added my caramel. I probably mixed it up a tiny bit too much - something to keep in mind for the next time.
I put the batter into the pan...
then put the cake pan into a larger, square pan and filled it with water. Baking in a water bath almost always ensures that the top doesn't crack. The downside is that it takes much longer to bake and thus you risk burning the top of the cheesecake. You have to keep a bit of a closer eye on it than if you were just baking like regular. I think in total this cake took an hour and 40 minutes or so (I don't quite remember), as opposed to the hour to hour and 10 minutes on the instructions. Keep in mind, that I only used 2/3rd of the recipe as well.
While it did take a bit extra care, look at how beautiful it turned out!!! I let it sit overnight and then the night of Y's birthday, after dinner and baths, I got started on the topping.
I made a half recipe of caramel - this time I got the consistency and color perfect! Yay!!
Once the sauce had cooled a bit, I drizzled it on top, being sure to go in only one direction. While the caramel was cooling, I melted some chocolate for the top so that it would have some time to cool as well.
Once the chocolate had cooled a bit, I drizzled that on in the opposite direction. I love how it looked when I was done! It is exactly how I had envisioned it.
It also tasted delicious. I LOVED the caramel in the cheesecake. Every once in a while, you would get a tiny hint of it. As above, I think I will be a tad bit more careful about mixing it in next time around. I want more of a swirl effect, although I am not sure how possible it is. Will the caramel end up melting into the cheesecake while it bakes? There's only one way to find out!
Happy birthday, my love! I hope you enjoyed your day.