We’ve been stuck in the house a lot recently because of all the snow we keep getting in SW MO. Just a little bit of snow can wreak havoc with these hills! We’ve been spending a lot of quality time playing and watching movies. But I can only play Mario Kart and Legos so much. (And if I step on one more Lego, they may all get thrown out in the snow!) When I suggested we bake something this last snow day, my son AND my husband were totally on board! My husband has been teaching me to cook (along with all of you) but coming up with a recipe still alludes me. We wanted to use the Nestle Toll House DelightFulls and create the recipe around those. Kyle spent hours researching the chemical structure of cheesecake (because it is my fave). Can you tell he’s a scientist? So while I can’t take credit for the ingenuity of this Chocolate Chip Caramel Cheesecake with a Pretzel Crust, I can claim that I made it all by myself! Those Nestle Toll House DelightFulls really hit the sweet spot!
Plan to make this the day before you want to serve it!
This recipe is divided into three parts – the pretzel crust, the caramel layer and finally the cheesecake layer.
Let’s start with the pretzel crust! For this part you will need:
2 cups of pulverized pretzels
3/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan.
Pulverize 2 cups of pretzels into a fine dust. This is most easily accomplished using a food processor for about 30 seconds. If using a food processor, the thin pretzel sticks will be easiest to work with.
Mix pretzels, butter, and sugar together in a medium bowl until evenly moistened.
Empty the crumb mixture into the pan. Using a flat bottomed dish such as a ramekin or measuring cup, firmly and evenly press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.
Bake until it begins to brown at the edges, around 12 minutes.
While that is cooking, you can move on to the caramel filling. For this part you will need:
30 unwrapped caramels
3 tbsp milk
Sea salt (optional) – any large crystal salt will work
Over low heat, combine caramels and milk. Stir until smooth. (Optional) Sprinkle sea salt evenly on the pretzel crust. Pour caramel mixture into the pan.
Put aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
Finally, let’s make the cheesecake layer!
For this part you will need:
4 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (What?! It helps maintain the acid flavor of the cheese. You won’t taste it.)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream (this helps smooth out the cream cheese texture)
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Beat cream cheese until uniform, about 1 minute. Add sugar and mix until combined. Add lemon juice, vanilla extract and sour cream until combined.
Add eggs one at a time, beating between each egg and finally beating the entire mixture until thoroughly combined and uniform.
Toss 1 package of DelightFulls™ with some flour to thoroughly coat them.
Coating the morsels will prevent them from sinking in the cake although there will be some migration towards the bottom.
Gently mix DelightFulls™ into the cream cheese mixture.
Grease the sides of the pan with butter.
Pour into pan on top of the crust and caramel layer.
Place on a baking sheet to catch any liquid that may escape the pan.
Bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 200 degrees and bake until center internal temperature of 150 degrees – about 1.5 hours.
Remove pan from oven and place on a cooling rack. After a few minutes, release cake from the side of the pan using a thin knife. (Do not remove the springform!)
Add the second package of DelightFulls™ to the top. Let cool for 3 hours and then refrigerate.
A note on cracks (AKA The Dark Cheesecake Rises): This part is from my husband and his vast knowledge of chemistry….
Cracks in the cheesecake are the bane of cheesecake bakers.
There are a couple of points in the cooking process where the cheesecake is vulnerable to cracking. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this from happening.
The structure of the cheesecake is held together by the egg proteins. If the temperature gets too high, the cake rises enough to begin tearing the protein lattice. When the protein lattice is disturbed the cake will crack as it cools and falls. This is why we use temperature to gauge doneness.
Cracks can also develop during the cool down period due to tensile stresses. There is naturally some adherence of the cake to the sides of the pan. As the cake cools and shrinks, this creates tension on the protein lattice which can cause the center to crack. After a few minutes of cooling, release the cake from the sides of the pan with a thin knife to prevent this from happening.
This cheesecake is decadent! The salty pretzel crust compliments the sweet caramel and cheesecake layer. The little explosions of caramel from the DelightFulls™ is indeed delightful! The whole family went nuts for this cake! We sat around in front of the fire enjoying our cheesecake. It was the perfect end to our snow day! (And a blessed distraction from Legos!)
I may have given this cheesecake a fancy name, but every time I make it, it will be forever known to me as “Snow Day Cheesecake”.
Nestle Toll House DelightFulls: Chocolate Chip Caramel Cheesecake
The salty pretzel crust balances the sweetness of the chocolate, caramel and cheesecake!
- 2 cups of pulverized pretzels
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 30 individually wrapped caramels unwrapped
- 3 tbsp milk
- Sea salt - any large crystal salt will work optional
- 4 packages of cream cheese 8 oz., softened
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 packages Nestle Toll House milk chocolate with caramel DelightFulls
- Unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease a 9 inch springform pan
- Pulverize pretzels into a fine dust.
- Mix pretzels, butter and sugar together in a medium bowl until evenly moistened.
- Empty the crumbs into the pan. Using a flat bottomed dish such as a ramekin or a measuring cup, firmly and evenly press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake until it begins to brown at the edges, around 12 minutes.
- Over low heat, combine caramels and milk. Stir until smooth.
- (Optional) Sprinkle sea salt evenly on the pretzel crust.
- Pour caramel mixture into the pan.
- Put aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- Beat cream cheese until uniform, about 1 minute. Add sugar and mix until combined. Add lemon juice, vanilla extract and sour cream until combined.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating between each egg and finally beating the entire mixture until thoroughly combined and uniform.
- Toss 1 package of the DelightFulls with some flour to thoroughly coat them.
- Gently mix DelightFulls into the cream cheese mixture.
- Grease sides of pan with butter.
- Pour into pan on top of the crust and caramel layer. Place on a baking sheet to catch any liquid that may escape the pan.
- Bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 200 degrees and bake until the center internal temperature reaches 150 degrees, about 1.5 hours.
- Remove pan from oven and place on cooling rack. After a few minutes release the cake from the side of the pan using a thin knife.
- Add the second package of DelightFulls to the top. Let cool for 3 hours and then refrigerate.
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