dark chocolate covered cashew turtle cheesecake

by Stevie on August 8, 2011

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I made this cake as part of the “cheesecake challenge” suggested by the ever-stylish Heavenly. It is based on a recipe by Yotam Ottolengi for caramel and macadamia cheesecake. H had a slice of this luscious dessert at Ottolengi’s restaurant in London and was apparently so captivated, that she couldn’t wait to try it at home. I do wish that I’d been there for that meal!

dark chocolate covered cashew turtle cheesecake

dark chocolate covered cashew turtle cheesecake

Quite a few delightful bloggers participated in this challenge. If you haven’t already, you should check out their great blogs ASAP. Follow the links below:

Tammy from il doce bacio
Liz from tip-top shape
Reenie from cinnamon and spice
Nanzeen from coffee and crumpets
Vanessa from sweet artichoke
Heavenly Housewife from donuts to delirium
Ros from more than the occasional baker
Amanda from glamorous glutton

Ottolengi’s recipe is very specific, which made me hard pressed to come up with a meaningful variation still in the spirit of the thing. But after the chocolate truffle challenge, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that everyone else in the entire world has known forever: chocolate makes things better. Duh!

I don’t especially enjoy macadamia nuts, so gladly traded them for cashews, which I adore. The simple chocolate topping comes from Emeril Lagasse’s 2003 recipe for chocolate covered turtles. It firmed up pleasantly after refrigeration, giving the cake a crisp outer shell.

This dessert is a pain to make. My cake broke a bit when I removed it from the spring form pan. But no worries. The toppings are so thick that all imperfections were hidden away. I thought that it might be excessively sweet, but again, not to worry. The toppings themselves are time consuming and even a bit dangerous to make: sugar burns, anyone?

Nevertheless, this cheesecake was impossibly good. I really would have devoured the entire cake in a day had it stayed at home. (Hegui and I did share a large slice.) Instead, I brought it to work, where it was vacuumed up by my fellow staffers in less than thirty minutes.

this is a messy decadent treat for any occasion

this is a messy decadent treat for any occasion

dark chocolate covered cashew turtle cheesecake

For the cake:

24 oz cream cheese at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
Vanilla pod
4 eggs
¼ cup sour cream
Confectioner’s sugar

For the base:

6 oz chocolate graham crackers
3 tbsp melted butter

For the nut topping:

1 cup raw cashews
~½ cup sugar

For the caramel sauce:

5 tbsp butter
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the chocolate topping:

1 scant cup dark chocolate nibs
1 tbsp vegetable shortening

To prepare the cake:

Preheat oven to 285F.

Lightly grease an 8 inch spring form pan. Cover with wax paper to facilitate removal of cake.

Crush chocolate graham crackers in a food processor. Add melted butter. Press into bottom of pan with a large spoon.

Beat cream cheese and sugar together until mixed. Scrape vanilla seeds from pod and add to cream cheese. Add eggs and sour cream. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Pour over graham cracker base. Bake between 60 and 90 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Carefully remove cake form mold and gently place on a serving platter. This part is tough and my cake crumbled a bit here. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

To prepare the cashew topping:

Place cashews in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast at 285F for about 5 to 8 minutes to lightly toast. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large saucepan, add sugar for nut topping. Heat on medium to medium high until sugar becomes a caramel. This took me about ten minutes or so. Do not stir or move sugar. Carefully add toasted cashews to caramel. Mix with wooden spoon to cover and pour onto a baking tray covered with wax paper. Let cool.

Break into bite-sized portions.

To prepare caramel sauce:

Place butter and sugar in a sauce pan on medium. Stir with a wooden spoon constantly. Cook until a dark caramel forms. This, too, takes at least ten minutes. The caramel went through fascinating stages, becoming a thick paste, then releasing liquid and all sorts of other changes. I wish now that I had made an iPhone movie to show you! Whatever happens, stir until it is the color that you want. Then add heavy cream while continuing to stir. Remove from heat.

To prepare chocolate topping:

Melt chocolate and vegetable shortening together in a double boiler. Stir constantly. Remove from heat to cool a bit then re-warm to tempter the chocolate.

To assemble cake:

Dust cake with confectioner’s sugar. Sprinkle candied cashews on top. Pour caramel sauce over that. Finally, drizzle chocolate sauce on top of everything. Cover and chill for a few hours. Then enjoy!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Heavenly Housewife August 8, 2011 at 3:36 am

Oh this is beautiful! Your version with the addition of the chocolate is exceptionally decadent!! Yep, this will totally give you a “food baby” LOL.
*kisses* HH

Nazneen August 8, 2011 at 4:13 am

Yum! I love turtle cheesecake. Your version is way decadent and I agree, chocolate makes everything extra delicious. Having made the cheesecake straight up the first time, I know a few things I would change. But I honestly think Ottolenghi’s recipe is a bit time consuming and would just prefer to make a simpler cheesecake….and douse it in chocolate :)

Glamorous glutton August 8, 2011 at 6:14 am

What a great idea, chocolate does make things better. Your cheesecake looks fabulous. Thanks for setting the challenge with HH. It was fun to do. GG

Anna August 8, 2011 at 6:21 am

Oh no you didn’t!!! This looks too good. Wish I could be a staff member of yours!! :D

Sweet Artichoke August 8, 2011 at 7:09 am

Waow, this is an very, very tempting version of the cheesecake! The chocolate topping with cashew is simply amazing! I have the feeling there will have a lot of cheesecakes in my future baking experiments!

Tammy August 8, 2011 at 9:40 am

Absolutely stunning, Steve!! And your topping looks gorgeous! Perfect. :)
Thank you for inviting me to participate in this challenge, I had a wonderful time and I’ve discovered an awesome new foodie site!

~Tammy♥

Shelley August 8, 2011 at 10:46 am

Great job! Looks like you and Heavenly have been at it again. My props for making a cheese cake. It’s just too much work for me since I’ve never been gaga over cheese cake to begin with.

bakingaddict August 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I love the chocolate and cashew version. It was well worth the effort though, wasnt it? :) I’m not surprised it got eaten so quickly. I myself am in danger of eating the whole cake!

wizzythestick August 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm

This cake is a holy wow! Bookmarked:-)

Faith August 9, 2011 at 7:53 am

Oh goodness, I just know it will not be long before I breakdown and make this thing of beauty! It sounds incredible and yours is really lovely with that chocolate drizzle on top!

Sara August 9, 2011 at 8:58 am

Really, that is just outrageous. I am kind of kicking myself for not joining in…but then again I am not, as it’s very tempting.

Karen August 10, 2011 at 9:34 am

Stevie, I would have loved to join you guys for this challenge, but macadamias are so ridiculously expensive here. Too bad I didn’t think of making it with other types of nuts, like you did. :-( Hopefully, we’ll cook together again next time. Your cheesecake looks fabulous though, especially with the chocolate drizzled on top. Totally decadent. :-) I cannot believe you brought this beauty to work!

Angie's Recipes August 10, 2011 at 10:26 am

This is beautiful, rich and decadent! I have some pinky sparkling ready here ;-))

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