This is a really delicious dessert that usually goes down well with most hungry guests with a sweet tooth. I’d almost forgotten about it until someone kindly pointed out that the image was in the ‘Made at Pigeon Cottage’ picture gallery on the website but not the recipe. Consider that oversight rectified Lucy! If you’re really dedicated you can make your own caramel topping but I usually just buy mine. Because it’s a baked cheesecake that needs to be chilled before serving, this really needs to be made the day before you want to serve it.
- A 20cm diameter non-stick springform cake tin, sides greased with a little butter and base also lined with baking parchment to make it turn out perfectly
- 1 380g jar of Bonne Maman ‘Confiture de Caramel’ or a tin of store-bought dulce de leche or caramel sauce such as Carnation 397g. If you want a salted caramel topping just add a pinch of fine Maldon salt and stir it in thoroughly.
- 2 tbsp chopped, lightly toasted hazelnuts
- 220g digestive biscuits
- 50g cocoa powder
- 100g unsalted butter, melted
- 600g full-fat cream cheese. I usually buy 2 x 300g pots of supermarket own brand (Sainsbury’s usually)
- 120g golden caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 3 eggs
- Turn the digestive biscuits into fine crumbs by whizzing them in a food processor or place then in a plastic bag and beat them with a rolling pin (very therapeutic!).
- Pour the crumbs and the cocoa powder into a bowl and stir in the melted butter. Pour it onto the spring-form tin base, spread it out evenly and press it down firmly with the back of a spoon. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the cheesecake mixture. Place the cream cheese, vanilla, sugar and eggs in a large bowl and mix with a hand-held or freestanding electric whisk.
- Pour the cheesecake mix into the tin over the biscuit base.
- The cheesecake now needs to be baked in a water bath in the oven. This is easy than it sounds. First, preheat the oven to 160ºC. Then, wrap the base and the sides of the springform tin tightly in a double layer of tin foil to stop any water leaking into the cheesecake – don’t cover the top. Place the tin in a roasting tin and pour hot water into it up to about 50cm from the top of the cheesecake tin. This should stop the top from cracking. Bake for about 40 minutes until it’s light and golden, firm to the touch and with a slight wobble in the middle. Oven’s vary so give it a little longer if necessary.
- When you think it’s ready, take it out of the oven, lift it out of the water bath and allow it to cool down to room temperature. When it’s cool enough, transfer it to the fridge to set for a few hours, overnight preferably.
- Carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin and set it on a serving plate. Tidy up the sides with the palette knife it needs it. Top it evenly with the caramel using the palette knife again and finish by sprinkling the toasted hazelnuts over it.
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