This post is really for two people...my wonderful husband, of course, and my beautiful sister-in-law, Lisa.
My husband loves cheesecake. LOVES IT. Seriously. Up until today, he only wanted plain cheesecake with a buttery candy-like crust. His sister, Lisa, told me that once, when they were kids, their grandparents took them to a cafeteria for dinner. Lisa said that she remembers that John ate 10 pieces of cheesecake. She said she was little and maybe didn't have a clear concept of numbers, but my husband confirmed it and said he really ate 10 pieces.
My sister-in-law is a sweet, special person. She has two beautiful daughters, a loving husband, and she is my biggest champion when it comes to my food blog. We all adore her. Today she requested that I make a cheesecake like the Cheesecake Factory's White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheesecake with a Blond Brownie Crust. Now, I've never tasted this cheesecake, and I haven't been to the Cheesecake Factory for probably 20 years. So, with her description and a brief look at a picture of said cheesecake, I hope I did this justice.
So the dessert is for my sweet Valentine, and the recipe is for my sweet sister-in-law. I hope it meets up to everyone's expectations. My husband loved it, and I hope you do too, Lisa.
WHITE CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA NUT CHEESECAKE
FOR THE CRUST:
1 C flour
1 C brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 C butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 C toasted, chopped Macadamia nuts (toast on a sheet pan at 350 degrees for 6 minutes)
FOR THE CARAMEL:
1/2 C butter
1 C sugar
3/4 C heavy cream
FOR THE CHEESECAKE:
24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 C sugar
8 ounces sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 1/2 ounces white chocolate (a bar cut into chunks or a package of chunks if you can find them)
1/4 C caramel sauce
1/2 C Macadamia nuts, toasted (toast as above in crust layer)
FOR THE GARNISH:
2 C heavy cream
1 C powdered sugar
More caramel sauce for drizzling
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Make the caramel first. In a small saucepot, melt the butter and sugar together over medium high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and golden brown, about 7-10 minutes. The longer you cook it, the stronger the flavor it is. If you don't want a really strong caramel, cook it closer to 7 minutes. Let it cool about 2 minutes and then whisk in the cream carefully. It may have a tendency to puff up and boil.
Mix the crust layer ingredients together. Spray a springform pan with pan coating. Spread the crust mixture on the bottom of the springform pan. Cook the crust layer 8-10 minutes or until it's slightly firm in the center and not as sticky.
Meanwhile, for the cheesecake layer, in a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft. Scrape down the sides, add in the sugar, and beat again until combined. Scrape the bowl down again and add in the remaining ingredients. Mix until well incorporated and smooth.
Gently spread half of the cheesecake mixture over the crust layer. Drizzle in some caramel, all the white chocolate, and most of the Macadamia nuts (leave some for garnishing). Spread the remaining cheesecake mixture over the top.
Make a large foil tent to cover over the cheesecake pan. This will keep your cheesecake white. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour. Remove foil tent and cook in five-minute increments until the center is set. Refrigerate or even freeze until cold.
When the cheesecake is cold, beat the heavy cream and powdered sugar in a mixer until stiff. Put a dollop of whipped cream on the cheesecake slices, drizzle caramel over, and the remaining Macadamia nuts.