Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Turtle Brownie Cheesecake with Praline Sauce

"I love pecans and caramel too. I love chocolate, oh yes I do. That's why I love turtles!" This phenomenally popular Canadian television jingle from 1980 entitled "I Love Turtles" became an instant hit with its campy 1930's-styling and breathy ball gowned beauty serenaded by a chorus of kazoo players and trio of oversized tuxedo-clad turtles in top hats, white bow-ties and thin black canes. From that moment on, "Turtles" had instant caché. Turtles brand candy were developed by Johnson’s Candy Company in 1918 after a salesman came into the commissary’s dipping room and showed a candy to one of the dippers, who pointed out that the candy looked like a turtle. Soon after, the company was making the same kind of candy and selling it under the name "Turtles." Today, Turtles candies come in all sizes, shapes and recipes, some even shaped like a turtle, with contemporary mold-making techniques, but the originals were produced by candy dippers on a rectangular marble pastry board, similar in size to a modern kitchen cutting board. The original recipe, made on marble, was peanuts, caramel and various chocolates — they were a multi-task confection, requiring several sittings. This Turtle Brownie Cheesecake with Praline Sauce is infinitely less work and equally delicious that you'll soon be singing "Turtles, Turtles, rah, rah, rah..."

Turtles packaging with dapper Mr Turtle in top hat and tails

Butter, sugar and water melted over medium heat

Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate chips and Tahitian vanilla added to the melted butter and sugar

The mixture become silky smooth

Two large eggs are whisked into the mixture one at a time

Flour, baking soda and salt are added to the brownie mixture and stirred until smooth

The mixture is poured into a parchment lined springform pan and baked at 325°F for 25 minutes

Firmer around the edges and looser in the middle

Cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla and flour blended in a standing mixture until light and fluffy

Whipping cream and four eggs are beaten into the cream cheese mixture

The cream cheese mixture is poured over the baked brownie base and set back into the 325°F oven for an hour, then with the door partially ajar, left in the oven for another hour

The cheesecake is perfectly set and ready for the ganache topping

Callabaut semi-sweet chocolate chips with whipping cream set over medium heat to create a ganache

The ganache is ready very quickly

Using an offset spatula, the ganache is smother over the cheesecake then chilled overnight

Chilled overnight, the ganache layer is firm and the cheesecake set

The praline sauce starts with butter and brown sugar melted in a saucepan over medium heat

The sauce is stirred until smooth

Whipping cream is then added to the sauce and once at a boil is simmered until it thickens

As the caramel cools slightly, the pecans are toasted in the oven for 8 minutes

The pecans are then added to complete the praline sauce

The sauce is poured over the cheesecake

The chocolate sauce is drizzled overtop of the praline sauce topped cheesecake and ready to be served!

Turtle Brownie Cheesecake
Serves 8-10
Recipe adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips, such as Callebaut
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Cheesecake Filling:
3 8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2/3 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Praline Sauce:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups pecans 

Chocolate Sauce:
1/4 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1 1/2 tbsp butter, cubed
1 tbsp packed light brown sugar
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, sugar, and water over medium heat, stirring to combine, then bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips until the chocolate has melted. Let the mixture cool slightly then whisk in the eggs one at a time. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir into the chocolate mixture, then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place on a baking sheet in case there is any leakage and bake for 25 minutes, noting that the edges will be done but not the centre. Remove the pan from oven and let it cool slightly before pouring the cheesecake mixture overtop, about 5 minutes — although don't cool too much or the cake will pull away from the sides and the cheesecake mixture may seep down the sides.

To make filling, beat the cream cheese in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and flour and mix until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the whipping cream and vanilla and beat just until combined. Gently pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie base which will have risen quite a bit in the oven, but the cheesecake layer will compact it down. Place the cheesecake back on the baking tray and bake in the 325°F oven for one hour. When done, turn the oven off and open the door a little bit, leaving the cheesecake in the oven for another hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

To make the ganache, cook the chocolate chips and heavy cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. When the cheesecake has cooled slightly, pour the ganache on top, smoothing it with an offset spatula. Gently run a knife along the edge to loosen the cheesecake but don't remove the sides of the pan, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

For the chocolate sauce, heat the milk, butter, and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to steam. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate and vanilla, stirring gently until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth. Cool to room temperature, then pour into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until needed. 

Run a hot knife around the cheesecake and loosen the springform ring. Carefully remove the ring and transfer the cake to a platter, then begin to prepare the praline sauce. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer just until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Let the caramel cool, but meanwhile, spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until they're lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer the warm pecans to a work surface and let them cool a few minutes, then coarsely chop and stir into the cooled caramel, and pour most of the praline sauce over the cheesecake and drizzle with chocolate sauce. Using a warm knife, cut the cake into generous slices and serve with the extra sauce for those with a sweet tooth.

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