Monday, October 7, 2013

BLIZZARD WARNING! Shelter at the Cafe and share the Caramel Swirl Cheesecake!

Hi everybody! It's the Fresh Pioneer. I know I usually show up on Wednesdays, but there was a massive blizzard warning and I decided to head to Jan's. What was I thinking???

Now we're snowed in.
Of course, Thatcher is having the time of his life! He's thinking blizzards are the best thing ever! That's because he doesn't have to drive. And he's not stuck at work like Jan's husband. Or without power or internet like Jan.
But remember, this is Yankee Belle Café so we've got lots to eat. And cook. And talk about.
So, while the boys play outside, Jan and I reminisced about her post this time last year.... Caramel Swirl Cheesecake!!!
This is her post from last October. Pull up a chair, let's watch the snow and enjoy a little dessert!
(But first, a fun little drawing I found but have no clue which artist gets the credit! Doesn't this look like Beatrix Potter?? Anyway, if you know, tell me! If not, we'll admire them anonymously.)

October 2012
The recipe is from "The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion" - by far the best cookbook I've bought in a long time.

And don't think cheesecake is hard to make! It's time consuming, but not hard.

The biggest misconception people have about cheesecake is that you have to make it in a spring-form pan. It helps to have one, but you can also use an 8x8 baking dish, and it works just fine - although maybe not so pretty.

But when something tastes this good, does it really matter how it looks?

There are two recipes here - one for the crust and one for the filling. We'll do the crust first.

Pate Sucree (or pasta frolla in Italy)


1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon non-fat dry milk (optional, but helpful for browning and tenderness)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces) cold butter
1 large egg yolk (sorry, this time it's a permanent separation)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, dry milk, sugar and salt, and then cut in the butter.

Whisk together the egg yolk, vanilla and water in a small bowl, and then stir the liquid into the dry mixture.

The dough should be crumbly, but should hold together when you squeeze it.

Press the dough into the bottom of your pan and about 1/2 inch up the sides.

Prick the bottom all over with a fork, and then bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

It should be lightly browned.

Remove it from the oven and set aside to cool.

Before you do anything else, reduce your oven temperature to 325 degrees. You'll thank me later.

And now it's time for the good stuff!

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake


3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature (or you can go to a warehouse store and buy the huge block)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream

You'll need to put your mixer to work on this one, but don't work it too hard. You want to work at gentle, slow speeds so you don't incorporate air into the cheesecake mixture. I use my whisk attachment, but you can also use regular beaters.

At slow speed, beat the cream cheese until it's soft and doesn't have any lumps. Scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl a couple times while you do this.

Add the sugar and salt and mix until well blended.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until well blended and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Now add the vanilla and cream slowly, and mix until it's well blended.

Measure out 3/4 cup of the filling and put it in a small bowl, and then pour the rest into your pan, on top of your crust.

Now comes the fun part. I used these caramel bits, but if you can't find them, use regular caramels, cut them into small pieces, and continue.

Measure 3/4 cup caramel bits into a microwave safe bowl, add a couple Tablespoons water, and heat in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, until the caramel is melted and you can stir the mixture into a nice, smooth bowl of caramelly goodness.

Mix your caramel into the small bowl of cheesecake filling, stirring until its all smooth.

Drop the caramel mixture onto your cheesecake filling by the tablespoon-full. Don't worry about squiggles or drips.

Next, take a knife and gently zig-zag through the dollops of caramel.

Now, isn't that pretty?

Make sure your oven temperature is at 325 degrees (aren't you glad you turned it down earlier?), and put your cheesecake in the oven. Bake it for about 45-50 minutes, or until lightly browned and slightly jiggly in the middle.

The cheesecake will puff up like nobody's business! But it won't last.

Turn your oven off, open the door slightly, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour. As your oven cools, your cheesecake will continue baking (no more jiggly center) and cool slowly (hopefully, no cracked top!). And it will deflate.

After an hour, take the cheesecake out of the oven, run a knife around the edge to allow the cake to pull away from the pan, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Yours shouldn't be this brown.

I'm still fighting with my oven - it refuses to keep an even temperature - but I'm sure this cheesecake will still taste good!

If you're here too early on Monday morning to see the final results, check back in later in the day - I'll post a picture of a slice of heaven - I hope :)

Oh! And a bonus recipe! If you want to make Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake, just substitute chocolate chips for the caramel. Now, isn't that easy?

Monday morning update:

Except for the extra brown top, I'd say this cheesecake deliciousness was a success. The only complaint I would have is that the caramel swirls are too similar in color to the regular cheesecake, so they don't stand out - but you can taste the caramel!

I remember our cheesecake at conference having more of a caramel texture to the swirls, so when I try this again, I think I'll use 1 1/2 cups caramel bits instead of 3/4.

On the other hand, the chocolate swirl is so good...

One other difference between this cheesecake and others I've had - I followed the recipe's suggestion for a sweeter cheesecake and used all cream, instead of 1/2 cup cream and 1 cup sour cream that the Classic Cheesecake recipe had.

This cheesecake doesn't have that classic tang that I associate with plain cheesecake, but it is still so good!

--------All right, peeps! It's The Fresh Pioneer again. Jan has gone out to shovel the walk so I'll be handling the comments here at the café. Here's to winter and some delicious cheesecake and having someone ELSE shovel the walk!


  1. I can't believe you've had that much snow, Jan! Virginia, thanks for filling in!

    Isn't our country amazing? It's in the 80's here while you're under snow drifts. Massive weather differences.

    I stil need to make this cheesecake!

  2. I think she posted some new photos and they're even more awesome! Huge drifts! Jan is an excellent hostess. But Thatcher and I got along great until he wanted me to go outside...

  3. Wait...if Jan doesn't have internet how did you get those pictures?!

    Love the first snow pictures of Thatcher. Have to admit that I heard about the blizzard heading Jan's way on the news lthis weekend and my first thought was "goodie, Thatcher snow pics!" LOL. Didn't even think about feeling sympathetic for Jan and her neighbours. And up here it is unseasonably warm -- muggy and humid even. Ugh.

    1. I stole them off facebook! You are so funny, Kav, about Thatcher pics! You know, I don't really connect people with their regions. Except maybe Ruthy, who goes on and on about the Yankees. I assume she's in New York!

    2. We had internet at the beginning of the storm, and then for a few hours last night, so I was able to post some pictures on facebook. Clever Virginia!

      The one picture isn't Thatcher - it's his dad. Yes, that's Gus, the Cowboy Corgi. Stories are in the works about him and his family.

      You can tell the difference if you look closely - Gus is a black-headed tri-color corgi, and Thatcher has more brown on his face. They're both cute as buttons, aren't they? (Oh, sorry Gus...handsome, not cute!)

  4. Loving the blizzard pics!!!! I just sequestered Libby and Jeter into a MONSTER crate in the garage because we've had about 4 inches of rain in the past 24 hours and still pouring and they were playing around the new construction: MUD.... and they're a ridiculous mess! Now they get the garage and a heat lamp until they dry out/clean up. Oh, how funny Thatcher looks in the snow!

    Okay, this recipe is going to get tried because I have everything on hand (yes, big pack of cream cheese at Sam's Club AND I buy a quart of fresh whipping cream every week because the new process keeps it fresh!!!! Love it!)

    So what if I use the heavy duty caramel syrup that Dave brought me when he was supposed to buy caramel creamer? I now own three 14 oz. jars (remember when they were 18 oz. jars????) of caramel ice cream sauce and I can't think of a better way to use them! And Sam's got Ghiradelli 60% cacao chocolate chips back in so I'm happy!!!! How about if we swirl chocolate and caramel together and use a crushed cookie topping????

    Oh, so many fun things to do with this recipe. You know what I've found? I can't use my convection oven for cheesecake, pumpkin pie or red velvet cake. The fan PULLS the top layer up on the cheesecake and pumpkin pie and it browns like this one did. For the cupcakes it pulls the batter toward the side so they all have a dollop that spreads across the cupcake pan. How funny!

    1. WEIRD! I never knew that about convection ovens. Now I don't want one like I used to. My dad has a counter top oven and I thought it was a toaster. I looked closer and it's a mini convection oven! Like... WHY?? But with only two people, they like it better than using the big oven. Two pork chops are done in 5 minutes.

    2. Ruthy, the big thing that stuck out in your comment is this: Sam's has Ghiradelli 60% cacao chocolate chips back in!!!

      Yay!!! I hope ours does, too!

      I haven't tried this recipe since we replaced our old oven, but I need to. I'm so happy with the way the new one behaves, I had almost forgotten what failures the old one turned out :/

  5. I love this recipe but I hope I won't be two days ahead of schedule because you are here Virginia!

    And Ruthy, don't you just love it when the hubbies go to the store! You never know what they will come back with! Tell you what, I will just send DS to visit you for his fall break at the end of the week and he will take care of those three jars of caramel syrup all by himself. He loves the stuff!

    1. Yeah, those jars of caramel made me confused. Why couldn't she just put them in the coffee? Isn't that the logical thing to do? Or eat it with a spoon!

  6. Oh how I wish I were there. There's just something exciting about that much snow. And cheesecake :) Some things are worth revisiting.

    1. My kids are loving the snow pictures!! It's raining here and I'm making chicken noodle soup. I haven't heard from Jan since she went out to get the mail an hour ago. Do you think I should go check?
      Nahhhh. It's warm inside. She'll tunnel her way back! Better leave her a slice of cheesecake...

  7. I'm so glad Virginia stopped by for a visit! Our weather has turned from blizzard to warm and sunny, so our 31" of snow are starting to disappear.

    (You wouldn't believe the drifts when you have 31" of snow and 70 mph winds. Doozies!)

    And I didn't go to get the mail - we won't have any for a couple days - but I did go to try to find those internet repair guys. I can do without power, but this forced isolation from my internet friends is no fun! They were so nice, and finally got our internet turned back on again - at least for now.

    We'll have the whole blizzard story on Monday- stay tuned!

  8. So sorry I missed this yesterday!!! It looks absolutely amazing. Cheesecake baking always scares me but this looks doable.