Chocolate-Caramel-Bacon Cheesecake

>> Thursday, March 13, 2014

We're down to the last few recipes from the Iron Chef Bacon Cook Off of 2014, and this, my friends, this is one of the best desserts I've ever eaten. My friend Jo started with a crust of cashews and graham cracker crumbs, loaded up the cheesecake with heavy cream and vanilla, then topped it with caramel and a semi-sweet chocolate ganache studded with bacon bits. Heavenly!

Once again I will apologize for the awful photo. There was the hubbub of cutting and serving desserts just as I drained my third glass of wine, and the results were not pretty. Jo was also disappointed because this cheesecake waited in the car while they were at a baptism, and some of the caramel slid off to one side. This cheesecake is so much tastier than it looks.

Note: you can make this recipe a day ahead, but if you make it the day you're serving it, be sure to make time to chill it before serving.


For the Crust:

2 cups Low-Fat Graham Cracker Crumbs (low-fat cookies will prevent the crust from getting soggy)
2 Tbs. Butter, melted
2 Tbs. vanilla sugar
4 slices bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
1/2 cup ground cashews (my friend used honey sesame-coated cashews from Trader Joe's)

For the Cheesecake:

24 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 1/2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

For the Bacon Turtle Topping: 

1 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 package of Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the crust ingredients and press evenly into bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan.

Blend together cream cheese, sugar, and heavy cream on medium speed in a mixer or food processor. Add eggs one by one, fully blending them before adding the next. Add the cream, lemon juice, and vanilla and blend until smooth and creamy.

Pour batter over the crust  and tap the pan to remove air bubbles. Bake 45-55 minutes, until the edges are set but the center is still jiggly. Turn off the oven. Wet a knife and run it between the pan and the cake to release it from the sides and prevent the middle from cracking. Put the cake (still in the pan) back in the oven, close the door, and let the cake set for one hour.

Remove the cake from the oven, and refrigerate four hours or overnight. Remove from the spring form pan before adding the topping.

Next, microwave the chocolate chips in a bowl for 1-minute intervals, stirring between, until the chips are melted. Stir in the bacon pieces, then spread over the top of the cake.

To make the chocolate turtle topping, stir together sugar and one tablespoon water in a small pan over medium-high heat. It will be grainy at first, but then the sugar will begin to melt. Then begin shaking the pan instead of stirring. Bring to a boil and cooked until caramel-colored.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cream. Let the mixture thicken for 20 minutes, then drizzle over the chocolate, as well as making a pool in the center.

Serves 8-10.


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