These adorable minis combine two of my favorites, sweet caramel and salt.
1 cup (50g) finely ground cookies, about 16 vanilla wafer or gingersnap cookies
3 tablespoons (42g) butter, melted
Makes 1 1/4 cup (300ml)
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60ml)water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
8 ounces (225g) mascarpone cheese
8 ounces (225g) cream cheese
3 tablespoons (24g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60g) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) cooled caramel sauce (see above recipe)
1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
2 large eggs
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 cup (240 ml) caramel sauce
2 teaspoons (10g) fleur de sel
To make the cookie crust:
Preheat oven to 350℉ (180℃) Gas Mark 4
In a medium bowl place the ground cookies. Add in butter and stir with a rubber spatula to combine, making sure all the butter is absorbed and cookies are evenly coated. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and place 1 heaping tablespoon (30g) of crust in each liner. Press crumbs firmly into the bottom. Bake for about 10 minutes or until solidified. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, about 10 minutes.
To make the caramel sauce:
In a medium 4-quart (4l) saucepan (make sure you are using a saucepan with high sides, and not a sauté pan or skillet) combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush down the sides of the pan if any sugar crystals are on the side of the pan. Increase the heat to high and continue cooking, without stirring, using the pastry brush dipped in water as necessary. The caramel will begin to take on a light golden color. Gently swirl, but not stir the pan to evenly
caramelize the sugar. Cook until the caramel is a medium amber color. Remove from heat and carefully add butter, heavy cream, and fleur de sel. The mixture will begin to bubble and rise slightly in the pan. Whisk until smooth. Allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
To make the cheesecake:
Lower oven to 325℉ (170℃) Gas Mark 3
In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix mascarpone, cream cheese, and flour on low speed until softened; scraping down the sides of the bowl, underneath the paddle, and the paddle frequently with a rubber spatula, about 2 minutes. Add in brown sugar and caramel sauce and continue mixing on low and scraping down the sides, bottom, and paddle until there are no visible lumps. Pour in heavy cream and mix just until combined. Add in eggs, one at a time and mix just until combined, about 10 seconds after each egg. Stir in vanilla bean. Pour 1/4 cup (60ml) of batter over crust. Place cupcake pan on baking tray. In a separate roasting pan add 2 cups (475ml) hot water. Place cupcake pan on top rack of oven and place roasting pan underneath on bottom rack. Bake about 25 minutes, until the cheesecake is just firm. Turn the oven off, leave oven door ajar and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature. Place in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.
Gently lift cheesecakes out of the pan holding the paper liner.
Remove the liner and pour about 1 tablespoon (14ml) of remaining caramel sauce on top of cheesecakes. Sprinkle with a large pinch of fleur de sel. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Yield: 12 mini cheesecakes
Note: If fleur de sel is not available, a medium grain sea salt can be substituted.