Caramel Cheesecake With a Pretzel Crust
This cheesecake has a smooth, creamy and rich filling over a pretzel crust (salted or unsalted - you choose). It’s also doused with a caramel topping which gets a nice sprinkling of flaky sea salt to boost that caramel sweetness.
My hubby is a cheesecake lover. Everytime we are invited somewhere and I’m asked to make a dessert he always requests cheesecake. He loves my classic cheesecake which I have actually never posted on here I just realized. My cranberry orange one is the closest recipe to my classic one - except instead of ginger snap cookies for the crust I use graham crackers and I leave out the orange zest for the filling - and I vary the topping accordingly. Anyways I love variety so I view each of those requests as an opportunity to make a new cheesecake (stay tuned for a decadent chocolate stout cheesecake coming next month)
This one comes inspired via Epicurious.com. Their filling is delicious and I love that it includes brown sugar in it to give it that caramelized flavour. Their recipe for the caramel topping is perfect too - but a great hack for the topping is just using storebought caramel sauce or dulce de leche sauce. It works perfectly and it makes this cheesecake even easier to whip up. I decided it would be fun to use pretzels as the base and I think you guys thought so too. When I previewed this recipe you guys all loved it and I’m super excited to share it with you. It’s a straightforward recipe that tastes delicious as all components come together.
Each bite has creamy, crumbly and some sticky sweet in there from the caramel sauce. It was a hit with friends. I love testing recipes out on friends - they are usually pretty honest about each recipe. They enjoyed this one and packed it all up before anyone else could take some home. It’s worth a try if you enjoy a salted caramel and pretzel treat with some creamy goodness added to it.
No fail cheesecake making tips
A water bath is tedious but always works in my opinion - The steam from the hot water will lift the cheesecake up slowly and evenly, reducing the risk of cracks on the surface. Just make sure to wrap your pan tightly with a few pieces of foil to prevent any moisture from getting into the crust and cake. Do allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature before wrapping tightly and refrigerating. Do give your cheesecake enough time to set in the fridge. I usually plan ahead and make it the night before I am sharing it with friends and family.
For the crust
- 2 cups crushed pretzels (using a food processor or rolling pin)
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
For the Cheesecake filling
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons (¼ stick) butter, melted
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Caramel topping
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- Pretzels, flaky sea salt and toffee bits to sprinkle on for garnish (optional)
For the crust
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.
- Combine the pretzels, melted butter, and brown sugar until well mixed.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Then, set aside to cool while your prep the filling
- Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in butter, then eggs, 1 at a time, until just blended. Beat in vanilla. Pour batter over crust in pan. Wrap the bottom of the pan tightly with foil coming up the sides of it and place springform pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake uncovered until filling is puffed around edges and moves slightly in center when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 10 minutes.
- Remove pan from water; and allow to cool to room temperature on baking rack. Once cool cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours or overnight. Once set, remove springform and top cake with caramel topping (storebought or homemade directions below) and garnish with pretzels, salt and toffee bits if using then slice and serve.
For caramel topping
- Stir sugar, water, and lemon juice in large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until mixture turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, approx 9 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble a lot). Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until reduced to 1 ¼ cups, stirring occasionally, approx 8 minutes. Chill until thickened but still pourable, about 15 minutes.
- Spoon caramel over top of cake. Garnish top edges with chopped English toffee, flaky sea salt and pretzels.
- Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides slice and serve